An Army for Chicago?

Crime rates in Chicago are attracting the attention of its political leadership. However, at least one of those leaders is going about matters with a remarkable short-sightedness:

If you needed another example of public officials woefully unaware of restraints on government power, look no further than the city of Chicago. The Austin Weekly News reported on April 28th that State Representative LaShawn Ford (D) is calling for the deployment of National Guard units on the streets of the Windy City to deal with escalating gang violence. Ford wants the military to augment the 13,400 strong Chicago Police Force, which is already the second largest in the nation.

Ford, along with fellow State Rep. John Fritchey (D), is encouraging Illinois Governor Pat Quinn to work with Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley to militarize the streets of the nation’s third-largest city. In a press release, Ford reasoned that local law enforcement should be backed up with armed forces because “we cannot accept it as a normal situation that someone is shot and killed in Chicago almost every day, with the West Side citizens whom I represent being affected at a much greater rate.”

The article goes on to say a number of things, but one of them in particular stood out for me, a quote from the National Black Police Association:

A police department’s officers are trained to enable Constitutional due process safeguards. Armies are not designed with this purpose – armies are trained to kill.

At the site Of Arms and Law, David Hardy makes the following observation:

[A]t the same time that we are militarizing police, we are orienting the military toward civilian police standards. The objectives are increasingly toward arresting suspects, as opposed to destroying the enemy.

Those who see benefit in using a military force to perform policing functions in Chicago–or anywhere else in the country–are missing the point and addressing the symptoms of underlying issues.  They show nearly as great an  ignorance as those physicians of time gone by who would bleed patients suffering from physical maladies.

Good intentions do not obviate the wrongness of either approach. If Chicago would like to address its burgeoning crime rate, it would do well to admit that personal responsibility (and allowing homeowners and residents to protect themselves) is the key.

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