Leader Of Chicago Fraternal Order Of Police Responds To Justice Report
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
We're going to spend a few more minutes on the Justice Department's report on Chicago. As you just heard, the report describes a pattern of excessive force by the Chicago Police Department, including deadly force, which it describes as unreasonable and unconstitutional. This includes shooting at suspects as they ran away, even when they presented no immediate threat and using excessive force against children. The report also finds that excessive force was concentrated in black and Latino communities with a police officer being 10 times more likely to use force against someone who is black compared to a white suspect.
Several of these findings echo a separate independent review by the Police Accountability Task Force in Chicago. We spoke to the head of that task force, Lori Lightfoot, last weekend. Today, in light of this new report from the Justice Department, we wanted to hear a different perspective, so we called Dean Angelo, Sr. He is head of the Fraternal Order of Police in Chicago, and he is with us now. Mr. Angelo, thank you so much for being with us.
DEAN ANGELO, SR.: Well, you're welcome.
MARTIN: Now, I assume you've had a chance to read the Justice Department report now, which is quite lengthy. Could I just get your initial thoughts?
ANGELO: Well, I - to your question and what I thought or what I felt about the report - initially, I was pretty much, I wouldn't say pleased, but I wasn't surprised with the findings about the department being - or lacking training or lacking equipment and technology and certainly the frustration our members face regarding promotions. Historically, in my 37-year career, promotions and frustration are like soup and sandwich. They go hand-in-hand. It is something that's not been transparent, that's not been accessible. It's a closed type of shop.
So we were pleased that they heard us and that that messaging was something that they brought into the report. And then, I believe that the report pretty much focused on about 0.3 percent of our population. And when you're talking to people that have been in the criminal justice system on the receiving end of an arrest and incarceration, I don't know the credibility carries through as some would consider.
MARTIN: This is an agreement between the United States Department of Justice and the City of Chicago. And, according to the description of the way this process unfolded, you know, they spent a year in the city, interviewed all of the stakeholders, including members of the Union, as I understand it, including supervisors, people all throughout the hierarchy. Does that give you some confidence that the recommendations may actually yield good results?
ANGELO: Well, I look forward to the good results. I concern myself, and our members are concerned with the, you know, the accusations that are, you know, commonplace from Lori Lightfoot's report and now this report where they're abusive and they're physical and they're aggressive to certain populations in our city in the minority populations - Hispanics and African-Americans.
If you look at the crime rates in Chicago, we've got over 90 percent murder rate and the offenders and/or the known offenders, and/or the victims, it's overwhelmingly, you know, in the 90 percentile and above that are African-American and Hispanics. This is where we get most of our hands-on, police-involved, you know, type of heightened contact. We over-deploy manpower to those communities on a regular basis because they lead in murders, guns, gun arrests and narcotic arrests, historically.
MARTIN: Do you feel that the charges of excessive force are unwarranted and unjustified?
ANGELO: No, that's not what I'm saying. What I'm saying is that there is a sense that police officers in Chicago are targeting people based on ethnicity, and that's not what's going on. When I asked Mr. Lightfoot about her report where she was calling everyone systemically racists, if you look at the African-American police officers or the Hispanic police officers that work in communities that are predominantly African-American or Hispanic, I asked did you remove them from consideration in your data collecting? And the answer was no.
So does that mean that the African-American girls and guys are racist when they stop people of their own ethnicity or the same thing with the Hispanic officers? I don't draw that connection or conclusion. But when I was - when I - my response - the response I got was that, well, some things are just obvious. I mean, that, to me, is a bit biased in nature. It's not that the officers are targeting people of color. What officers in these high-crime areas do is they target criminal behavior and that is what needs to be discussed here. Now, are there...
MARTIN: Now, I hear...
MARTIN: ...What you're saying.
ANGELO: Go ahead.
MARTIN: Mr. Angelo, the question, though, is do you think the status quo in Chicago between the police - the relationship between the police and the communities is acceptable? Is the status quo acceptable?
ANGELO: No, I - no, I do not. I think that there is a underheard portion - large portion - of our city in these areas that are being just ravaged with violence that is not heard from. And those are the people that we work for and those are the people we put our lives on the line for. We have families in this city that can't go outside and play catch with their children because they're afraid they're going to catch a bullet instead of a baseball. And no one's talked to them.
MARTIN: Are your members prepared, do you think, to accept these findings and to abide by them?
ANGELO: Our members have been dragged through a lot for the last couple of years. I don't think that they expected much different from what they heard. You know, some of the things are positive for them to get better equipment, better training, better vehicles, access to better technology, access to a more fair promotion system. That'll be something that they will, you know, maybe be encouraged by. But the problem with the narrative - and if you look at the Chicago newspaper headlines today - all of that positiveness (ph) that I saw in the initial stages of the broadcast yesterday, the presentation by the DOJ, is overshadowed by the negative again.
MARTIN: Dean Angelo, Sr. is the president of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 7. He was kind enough to join us from Chicago. Mr. Angelo, thank you so much for speaking with us.
ANGELO: You're welcome. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.