Honesty, Open Disclosure Needed to Heal Chicago, CPD

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

The report unveiled yesterday hit Chicago and the Chicago Police Department with the virtual force of a sledgehammer to the collective forehead of the city and those changed with maintaining law and order.

cod-logoFindings from two federal agencies revealed a police department “broken by systems that have allowed CPD officers who violate the law to escape accountability.” And, there’s more: Some police, according to the report, have violated civil rights and used excessive force against blacks and Latinos. Plus, the department’s training program doesn’t properly prepare officers for the job.

The title of the report, “Investigation of the Chicago Police Department,” is somewhat innocuous.  Yet, the conclusions made by the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Attorney’s Office are incredibly powerful and poignant, and will have lasting ramifications.

In short, the reputation of the Chicago Police Department — and in turn the reputation of the City of Chicago and Mayor Rahm Emanuel — has been battered at a time when the city is facing a crisis in neighborhoods plagued by a record homicide rate and incessant violence that appears to show no signs of abating.

What to do?

I’ll offer this general advice from a public relations perspective: Open, honest disclosure of how the Department will address the charges identified in the federal report is needed, and it’s needed right now.

Trying to put a “spin” (and I cringe when this term is used) or other efforts to diffuse this situation is foolhardy and counterproductive.

CPD is now facing a sustained crisis, meaning the ramifications from the federal report can last for years.  Without question, gaining the trust and respect of the people of Chicago will take a long time and will be full of challenges.

A clear road map of how the Department will move forward is the best first step it can take to rebuild that trust and respect.

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One Image, One Question: July 4, 2016

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

A morning stroll through Avondale and Logan Square this Independence Day was tranquil in its own way.

As you’d expect, I encountered only a handful of people, and there were few cars on normally busy Diversey Avenue and Logan Boulevard. Aside from the occasional barking dog or chirping bird, the only disruption to the quiet were the squawking chickens — yes chickens — owned by a family down the block.

Even with the beverage can discarded in the street, one could find tranquility on George Street this Independence Day.

Even with the beverage can discarded in the street, one could find tranquility on George Street this Independence Day. Unfortunately, that’s not the case on many other Chicago streets.

On George Street, tranquility for me is embodied in the image on this page. Yes, this is not at all bucolic in the conventional sense, in light of the mature trees; but for a thoroughfare in the heart of one of America’s largest and greatest cities, one could enjoy the quiet of a summer holiday morning by sitting quietly on George Street.

From our front porch, we partake in this activity regularly.

Many other blocks in Chicago may look like George Street in the Avondale neighborhood this morning; but many, far too many, are not at all tranquil. Too many streets have become urban battle zones plagued by gun-driven violence that has reached levels not seen in decades.

As noted in this Yahoo news report, the monthly homicide rate this year in Chicago can be equated to the horrific mass murder at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

So, on to the question:

What needs to happen to quell the heartbreaking outbreak of shootings that has shredded the very fabric of some Chicago communities?

If this is any sign of “progress,” through enhanced policing “only” two people were fatally shot and 30 have been wounded by gunfire so far this long weekend. An online report from DNA Info provides the details.

Wishing all who read this a safe and Happy Independence Day.  Also, wishing for realistic answers to my question this July 4, 2016.