In 1980 I became a cop. Went through the police academy, took classes and tests. One of those classes was on “Ethics and Policing” in today’s society. The instructor was as passionate as I assume he was unethical.
I learned a lot in that class. What did I learn? That ethics was no more than a word and the class simply something that the state said had to be taught.
Was I-am I-cynical? You bet. But with reason.
First, and quickly, everyone, including this writer has behaved unethically to some degree or another at times in our lives. Selfishness, greed, thirst for something we don’t have, etc., drives us to do things we shouldn’t.
After that ethics class in the academy, one of the students (I’ll call him Charlie) bragged that he was appointed to one of the Cook County law enforcement divisions because he knew the sheriff. He subsequently got caught cheating on a test. Flat out got caught. Never mind the details, he wound up admitting it. He was gone, immediately packed up and was whisked away.
Good for him. I didn’t like him anyway: perfect example of an unethical ass.
The very next day, in the middle of the first hour, Charlie comes walking into our class, high fives a couple of the other “appointees” and takes his previously occupied seat. Why was he allowed to come back in? He explained at a break: His father was best friends with the sheriff. Not only did he get his job back, he told us that the proctor who caught him cheating got his “ass chewed out.”
Jussie Smollett. Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx. The DOJ. Politicians. FBI administrators. Hollywood. The list goes on in this story of sordid details great and small.
Police officers, hard-working line-level cops, trying to do their best, make national news if they do something that even looks as though it’s improper. They, regular people who have never wanted to be the center of attention, in the age of video and belligerent narratives have their worlds turned upside down because their behavior is the latest to go viral.
In the majority of cases their behavior has been deemed, if not proper, then at least legal and reasonable given the circumstances. But that’s no longer good enough. Police, at least to some minds, are corrupt from root to stem. All other evidence be damned. If their life is destroyed in the process, so be it.
Yesterday on March 26, with no explanation, a judge, in less than five minutes, with the approval of the office of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, dropped all 16 felony disorderly conduct charges on Jussie Smollett. The proceedings were immediately sealed as to why and the $10,000 posted for Smollett’s bond a month ago was turned over to the City of Chicago Law Department.
No consultation with the Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who, weeks ago, along with one of Foxx’s assistants laid out the 16-count indictment in graphic detail in a public forum. They talked about collusion with two brothers; they spelled out the purpose of the sinister plot and how his description of the “racist attack” damaged an already fractured Chicago community. Johnson himself was incensed as he described the manpower required to investigate the case.
To make this even more absurd, from the Chicago Sun Times: “First Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph Magats said the decision to drop the charges should not be interpreted that Smollett did not do what police and prosecutors have alleged-pay his assailants to fake the attack be interpreted that Smollett did not do what police and then falsely report the incident to police.”
“The fact that (Smollett) feels we have exonerated him,” Magats told reporters, “we have not. I can’t make it any clearer than that.”
Again from the Times: “Nor did dropping the charges mean that Smollett was a victim of a crime,” said Magats.
“Absolutely not. We stand behind the CPD investigation done in this case, we stand behind the approval of charges in this case,” Magats told the Sun-Times. “They did a fantastic job. The fact there was an alternative disposition in this case is not and should not be viewed as some kind of admission there was something wrong with the case, or something wrong with the investigation that the Chicago Police did.”
The assistant prosecutor went on in the article: “It’s a nonviolent crime. He has no felony criminal background. If you start looking at the disposition in the case, in every case you need to look at the facts and circumstances of the case, and the defendant’s background.”
“Magats noted that while there was no court-ordered community service, Smollett had been active in the community even after he was charged. Sealing records as part of deferred prosecution is common, Magats said.”
Ethics! In other words: Just pretend this never happened…
Over the past two years especially, the people who run for and/or hold political office, aspire to higher administrative posts within law enforcement agencies, and fight for appointment as administrators in departments that espouse to be about justice, have behaved in anything but ethical ways. Their personal greed, political views, desire for power are corruption of the highest order and, shockingly, they aren’t even savvy about hiding it.
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When caught or exposed to the light of day, the corruptors simply shrug their shoulders, lie (“Sealing records as part of deferred prosecution is common”) and figure no one will notice, or, probably more accurately, care.
Ethics is a funny concept. One of the philosophies I studied in college was something called Consequentialism. It is defined generally as: the doctrine that the morality of an action is to be judged solely by its consequences.
So, theoretically, if the consequences are you win, you please someone you need to please for your own gain, violate rules, laws, protocols and common decency for an outcome you and your like minded cohorts have deemed to be righteous as a whole, beneficial or desired, then, for crying out loud-do it. Ethics is whatever you decide it is in the moment so that you may have your way.
Which means you can demonize anyone else who thinks and believes the contrary. Convenient isn’t it?
Here’s a tip for you people who rule. Be honest about your corruption and leave those trying to do their best alone. Don’t demonize those lower on the food chain for your benefit.
In short, shut up about ethics because those on the line, know and see your hypocrisy. It disgusts them.
At the bottom line, it’s all about saving just ONE life.
Photo by Dominick D – Jussie Smollett, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48253478
This article was originally published by Calibre Press.
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