Cops, the brass, and politicians: a neverending battle

September 15, 2010
By

In the wake of Mayor Daley’s surprise announcement that he wouldn’t be seeking a sixth term in office, a long-simmering dispute between the Chicago Police Department’s rank and file and its leadership—specifically Superintendent Jody Weis—has erupted into a full-fledged public war of opinion. Even as Daley continued to vouch for his hand-picked superintendent last week, at least one prominent candidate for Daley’s job said that he’d fire Weis if given the chance—and today the Fraternal Order of Police joined the fray, organizing a demonstration that criticized Weis for everything from his handling of police brutality cases to his decision to dress in uniform.
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The CPD is far from alone: tensions between the rank and file and the departmental brass are common in big-city departments, where street-level officers often feel that they are misunderstood, underappreciated, and even undermined by those back at headquarters. For a fine-grained look at that fraught relationship, you can’t do much better than Jennifer Hunt’s new book Seven Shots: An NYPD Raid on a Terrorist Cell and Its Aftermath. Hunt recounts the dramatic story of a daring raid that foiled a bombing planned for the New York subway in 1997—and then she goes on to tell how, rather than being rewarded,the officers involved in the raid fell victim to departmental politics. Hunt has spent years working closely with cops in the field, and Seven Shots puts the reader firmly into their world, seeing nearly as many dangers coming at them from HQ as from the streets themselves. Novelist and former NYPD lieutenant Ed Dee says that Hunt, “understands cops,” and calls the book”the most honest, accurate, and heartfelt look beneath the surface of the NYPD that I’ve ever read.”
You can read the dramatic story of the raid itself here.

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