Police Corruption in Chicago

 Posted by on 10 June 2008 at 3:53 pm  Law
Jun 102008

Chicago police officer Keith Herrera (and FBI informant) has reportedly described some extremely shocking and disturbing behavior amongst members of the elite Special Operations Section of the Chicago Police Department.

For instance, these officers lied in official police reports to frame suspects for wrongs they did not actually commit:

As an example, Herrera said, a drug suspect might be listed in a report as refusing to surrender his gun even if he had dropped the weapon.

…”Creative writing was a certain term that bosses used to make sure that the job got done,” Herrera, referring to fabrications on police reports…

Nor was this just the action of a few rogue officers. Officer Herrera reports that this was a policy explicitly sanctioned and encouraged by his superiors on the squad:

“I didn’t just pick up a pen and just learn how to (lie). Bosses, guys that I work with who were older than I was… It’s taught to you.”

Even worse, some officers on that squad committed crimes themselves, including stealing and plotting murder against fellow police officers:

Herrera said he began stealing from people he arrested but decided to go to the FBI after the group’s leader proposed killing two colleagues who were threatening to testify against him.

He said the ring leader, who has been charged with plotting a murder for hire, told him in a conversation he recorded for the FBI that there would be a “paint job” and if it was done right “we’d never have to paint again.”

Herrerra blames this atrocious behaviour on the so-called “war on drugs”:

Keith Herrera told CBS’ “60 Minutes” that pressure to get drug dealers and their guns off the streets led first to cutting corners and then to crime.

If Herrera’s accusations are correct, there are a couple of deeply disturbing implications.

1) When the government stops protecting individual rights and instead prohibits activities that should be legal (such as selling drugs), it creates an atmosphere ripe for police corruption. We saw that in the early 20th century during the era of alcohol Prohibition, and we are seeing it in the current “war on drugs”.

(Just to be clear, I believe that selling, purchasing, and consuming drugs like heroin and crack cocaine is both irrational and immoral, but should not be illegal.)

2) Without a clear set of objective principles to guide the actions of law enforcement agents, they can quickly become agents to the whims of their political superiors, first “cutting corners” and later committing actual crimes.

If a culture of unprincipled pragmatism and unthinking obedience to superiors becomes widespread in the law enforcement community, then this becomes extremely dangerous. In particular, it creates a ready training ground for thugs willing to enforce the wishes of any future dictatorship. This is the end result when law enforcement agencies are not guided by the proper principles, such as respect for individual rights and the rule of objective law.

Under a proper system of government, law enforcement agencies will be guided by the following principle as articulated by Ayn Rand:

…[A] government holds a monopoly on the legal use of physical force. It has to hold such a monopoly, since it is the agent of restraining and combating the use of force; and for that very same reason, its actions have to be rigidly defined, delimited and circumscribed; no touch of whim or caprice should be permitted in its performance; it should be an impersonal robot, with the laws as its only motive power. If a society is to be free, its government has to be controlled. (“The Nature of Government”, The Virtue of Selfishness)

Hence, if these officers are indeed guilty of the alleged crimes, I hope they meet the same impartial, objective justice that all criminals deserve.

Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha