Sunday, July 18, 2010

Cop Killers

This morning an off duty, uniformed police officer was shot and killed outside his home on the city's south side. It might have been a car jacking gone wrong. The officer was over 60 years of age and near retirement. His most recent assignment was to guard Mayor Daley's home.

I admit I regularly read the Chicago Breaking News stories on the Tribune's website. And when something terrible happens, I pay close attention to the reader comments. Most people appear to be completely frustrated by the violence in Chicago. I know I am.

Just 2 weeks ago, another Chicago police officer was shot and killed with his own sidearm. And this May, a younger off-duty police officer was shot and killed. The assailants were trying to steal his motorcycle.

None of these recent killings involved officers who were on duty, thus like so many other people murdered senselessly, they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. The fact that they were sworn police officers has naturally sensationalized all three killings.

I will never argue that one life is worth more or less than another. But when police officers are killed, no matter the circumstances, people get upset. I read daily about gang members shot and killed. I won't say that no one cares. That wouldn't be true. But the comments on those stories are typically aimed at Mayor Daley. They read like this "I love how your handgun ban is working Daley. Way to go. Aren't we truly safer now. Thanks."

When an officer is killed, commentators typically offer prayers to the family. But then the Mayor gets beat up and ultimately blamed for pretty much everything. Some people seem to think that if everyone was allowed to carry a concealed weapon, the violence would somehow go away.

I don't really understand that line of thinking. But I am open to anyone who feels that way to comment here. Having everyone armed just reminds me of the Wild West and the open frontier. Now take that picture and put it inside the inner Chicago city where population density is a problem and I see a recipe for disaster. I could be wrong, however.

Last week there was a gang related shooting in Lakeview, my neighborhood. Also in Lakeview in the last couple of weeks were 2 home invasions. One victim was a retired University of Illinois professor. The other victim was a young woman who was choked by her assailant.

There has also been a couple of shootings recently in Uptown, which is just north of Lakeview. And even Evanston, home of Northwestern University, has seen a couple of shootings and at least one murder this summer. It doesn't get more white bread than Evanston, except maybe Wilmette. But I digress.

The temperatures have been abnormally warm lately. Cops tell me occurrences of violent crime rise with the mercury on the thermometer. I believe this to be true. It seems there's more shootings and murders during really hot weekends. And last night, as usual, most of the gun firing took place between 1 and 3 am.

But not all violence happens when it's dark outside. In fact, all 3 police officers were killed in broad daylight. And last week a 16 year old boy was murdered on his bike early one morning. Then that afternoon, another 16 year old was shot. The gang shooting in Lakeview last week happened in the early afternoon. A man was shot and killed in his car early this morning on the west side.

The big difference is that the cops tend to catch daytime offenders easier. As far as the officer that was murdered this morning, reports claim 3 young men were involved. I am sure it won't be long before 1 of them is caught. And 1 of them will certainly give up the other 2.

The streets talk. And people in custody talk. These guys will be caught. I am confident. It wouldn't surprise me if they were all in custody right now, though there's no report of this. When a cop gets killed, the shooter is caught very quickly. When a cop gets killed, other cops take it personally. I certainly can't blame them. It's a tough job.

Even though none of the officers were on duty, at least one was in uniform. There's an unwritten rule about killing cops: you don't. Period. Killing an on-duty cop can bring the death penalty. I doubt if the bad guys this morning asked the officer if he was still on the clock before ending his life.

It is truly a lawless state out there if uniformed police officers can be killed in front of their home, on duty or not. Perhaps the officer was wearing a coat and maybe the bad guys didn't recognize that he was a cop. I wasn't there, so I don't know.

I think most of me wants to believe that this couldn't have happened. A man in his early 60's and wearing a police uniform was murdered in broad daylight, in front of his house by people that wanted his car.

If that's exactly what happened, I may lose all hope. I may lose hope in this city. I may lose hope in people. I may lose hope in my profession. I may lose hope in everything.

I am pissed.


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