Difficult time for the Chicago P.D. E-mail
Written by Fr. Tom Nangle   

We are living through one more very tough time  at the Chicago Police Department. It’s “beat-down” time for our agency and the punches and kicks are coming from the media, clergy, and politicians, as well as some folks who just don’t like authority figures. After the usual disclaimer about bad apples in the barrel, where does this beat-down leave the men and women of the Chicago Police Department who stand for roll call and go out and  hit the streets to serve and protect this city?

Embarrassed? Demoralized? Disgusted? “Disgusted” seems to be the prevalent feeling among officers. They are disgusted that the average, everyday arrest for resisting can look brutal on a video and no one understands that. Disgusted that the city will pay accusers $25,000 just to go away.

Disgusted that reverends and gossip columnists have turned the search for a new superintendent into a torpedo contest and back-stab fest. Disgusted that race is being unfairly injected into many police issues. Disgusted that the Chicago P.D. is the lightning rod for every mess in the city.

Disgusted that the police get blamed for children getting shot by gangbangers. Disgusted that the media seems insatiable in its appetite for dirt on the department that has the population of a medium-size American town. Disgusted by being dragged into the justice system as defendants and rediscovering how broken and imperfect it is. Disgusted at how willing people are to believe the worst about the police. Disgusted with the marches to take back the streets and candlelight vigils at crime scenes.

Disgusted that society wants the police to be parents and teachers. Disgusted with empty gestures and showboating. Disgusted with lies. But for all the disgust, members of the Chicago P.D. still stand for roll call and go out to serve and protect. They still run what others flee, still see what others can’t bear to look at, still put cuffs on the bad guys, still save lives, still prevent human evil by their presence, still get hurt and occasionally killed, still solve serious crimes and mysteries, still chase, still honor the star that they wear. Police work is substantial and messy, but Godly work all at the same time.

Substantial because society simply cannot exist without police, whose sworn responsibility it is to make justice happen. It’s messy because of human suffering, human evil, and human degradation. It’s Godly because the essence of police work is to serve and protect God’s people and to work for peace, justice, and order. Those are the values of God and they are noble and sacred.

Three million people cannot live in peace and security in this city without our police officers. For those critics who attend the endless candlelight vigils and marches to “take back the street” – I would ask them to imagine our city without any police presence at all. They advocate for taking back the street from the police at their peril. Fr. Thomas Nangle is a Chicago Police Department chaplain.

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