City’s tired im­age of po­lice fails to see a ‘di­verse gen­er­a­tion of young of­fi­cers’

Chicago Sun-Times - - OPINION -

As peo­ple of color, my hus­band and I want to help solve the prob­lems that we our­selves sur­vived grow­ing up in Chicago — the shoot­ings, sense­less killings, gangs, drugs, broken homes, so­cial and eco­nomic dis­par­i­ties. But sadly, Chicago seems stuck on an old im­age of po­lice of­fi­cers, fail­ing to see our city’s new, emerg­ing, di­verse gen­er­a­tion of young of­fi­cers.

Who is telling the story of of­fi­cers who were born and raised in this city, who are for­mer Chicago Public Schools stu­dents? Th­ese city kids, now as po­lice of­fi­cers, are un­wel­come in their own com­mu­ni­ties and schools be­cause of fund­ing de­bates.

I em­pathize and mourn with the vic­tims of po­lice bru­tal­ity and racial pro­fil­ing. My hus­band and I have ex­pe­ri­enced it too. But

CPD has a new face.

I am out­raged, sad­dened and hurt by the bla­tant law­less­ness and dis­re­gard for au­thor­ity we are see­ing now. Peo­ple have planned at­tacks against po­lice. Law­less groups have hurled pro­jec­tiles, stabbed of­fi­cers with sharp­ened PVC pip­ing and thrown frozen wa­ter bot­tles and ex­plo­sives at them. Are of­fi­cers sup­posed to stand there like ro­bots as abuse is heaped on them? Would you?

An at­tack on our of­fi­cers is an at­tack on us — all of us!

Vi­o­lence un­de­ni­ably has in­creased, and there is a di­rect cor­re­la­tion be­tween that and the anti-po­lice move­ment. Please drop the no­tion that the po­lice must be de­funded — a delu­sional and reck­less idea.

Now more than ever, our po­lice of­fi­cers and their fam­i­lies need sup­port. We need an am­pli­fied voice, and the city should care about us, too. The po­lice are ex­as­per­ated, re­port­ing to a mayor who does not lead by ex­am­ple.

How can Mayor Lori Light­foot seek to fire an of­fi­cer for giv­ing the mid­dle finger to some­one but then send this mes­sage to the pres­i­dent of the United States: “It be­gins with an F and ends with YOU.”

She’s set­ting of­fi­cers up to fail. Ac­count­abil­ity goes both ways.

My chal­lenge to Chicago is, first, change your per­cep­tion of the po­lice. Un­der­stand that they are peo­ple, with fam­i­lies and friends who love them. The Chicago po­lice are work­ing hard to en­act needed re­forms. It takes time; they are not in­sta-per­fect.

Chicago needs a po­lice depart­ment it can trust and re­spect. Char­ac­ter and con­duct go hand in hand. Like­wise and equally, CPD needs the sup­port of con­sci­en­tious and honor­able Chicagoans — and a mayor who will back her blue! Juanita San­ti­ago, CPD wife and South Sider

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