Friday, July 4, 2008

Breaking In The New Guy

So last year da Mare gives the top cop job in Chicago to an FBI guy who ran their Philly office. He was once on a SWAT team for a time, but the guy has never actually been a bona fide "policeman."  Perhaps he was fulfilling a lifelong childhood dream of wearing a police uniform. Perhaps he was tired of being one of the Men in Black. Because when Jody "The Body" Weis [He says WEESE] took over in Chicago, the first thing he did was get fitted for a 52 extra long cop suit, complete with the fancy gold braid on his lid. 

I think he thought that part of getting to run the ship was getting to wear the costume, right? Well, in his case, the rank and file were a little miffed that he had the balls to put on a cop's uniform without actually doing the time.

Orlando W. Wilson, the only other non cop ever hired to run the Chicago Police department after a scandal in the sixties, never played dress up. [By the way, Orlando Wilson is not related to Orlando Bloom or Orlando Jones].

So after making several full contact appearances looking as uncomfortable as a monkey in a dress, Weis couldn't ignore the increasing grumblings from a pissed off rank and file, who have resented his appointment from the get go. And, wisely, he stopped with the Big Chief uniform and started wearing polo shirts with a CPD star instead.

But he actually made a bigger management blunder that, in the end, may be much worse than his wardrobe malfunction.

One day, out of the blue, he up and fired or encouraged 22 of 25 district commanders to accept demotions or retirement. Not that it wasn't needed. Just anyone who has run a big company knows that there are so many better ways to handle a sweeping management change like that, especially when you're the newbie.  Morale has already plunged; why do something else to make things even worse. You might want to move slowly, for starters. Carefully also comes to mind.

Despite occasional evidence tothe contrary, cops are people too, and when you jack them around, it's wise to remember that they outnumber you AND they have guns. This being Chicago, they have also been known to use them early and often.

So instead of quietly removing one or two commanders at a time, perhaps over a six month period -- to smooth the transition at the very least by staying under the radar -- Weis called a press conference when he was still wearing his big boy suit and fancy hat to announce that leadership as everyone knew it was over.

The shock reverberated throughout city and the police force. Frankly, things still feel shaky. In fact, after writing this entry I discovered that one of the news magazines is saying pretty much the same thing as I am. Obviously they read my blog.

In fact, it seems like we're getting reports of multiple city deaths every day, the way we used to get daily reports of deaths in Iraq. The local media started keeping a count of how many school kids have been shot and killed. Reading, writing, and RIP.

Lately more toddlers and moms seem to be in harm's way. The perception, fueled by comments made during interviews of reporters themselves, is that the police, particularly the gang units, are holding back somehow.

Last night there was a rumble after the fireworks downtown.  There were well over a million spectators in Grant Park. And I guess some gangs went at it on the way home and a girl is dead, a victim of a stray bullet most likely.

Do you remember having an autocratic boss you hated? One who ruled by fiat, not consensus? Who treated everyone like they were incompetent?  You probably didn't notice it right away, but you slowly pulled back and started doing only the minimum work required. That's how it feels now.

Someone predicted that Weis would only last about five years, given the history of outsiders coming into metro police departments after a scandal. 

I'm thinking he could be -- should be -- gone a lot sooner.


screaminremo303 said...

Didn't he coach at Notre Dame?

It's either a case of someone (finally) cleaning house in Shit-cah-go PD or someone who has a really good estate planner. Either way, things will get worse before they get better. The FOP will make sure of that.

swibirun said...

Is Wilson related to Tony Orlando?  ha!

Doesn't sound good up there, with a bunch of disgruntled employees carrying around guns, mace, and handcuffs.  You'd better watch out, those welfare checks might get a bit rough:)

robingrg2 said...

Well, that's just great news.  My in-laws are headed your way on Sunday.  They'll be there a few days in a hotel on the Miracle Mile and have tickets to a Cubs game.  They couldn't protect themselves if they had to and couldn't outrun a turtle!  Are you available next week for hire as a bodyguard?  

Robin in Texas

ber144 said...

"To protect and serve.  Unless, you know, we don't feel like it."

The problem with the CPD is that there are way too many who are on the job so that they can do nothing eight hours a day.  I worked in some neighborhoods where I got to know that local police fairly well.  Some were outstanding, others were abhorrent.  I could predict who was on duty solely by the time it took to respond to a call.  My favorites were the ones who would lash out at us for causing them to fill out paperwork.

It's a job I could never do, and so I give all the credit in the world for those that do, but the public shouldn't have to accept a reduction in effort because of typical office politics.  Maybe I'm naive.