Obama’s Hometown Police: Useless at Best, Deadly at Worst

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Last Thursday, 16-year-old Derrion Albert had the misfortune of wandering into a street fight in Chicago between two rival gangs. The melee was apparently provoked by a shooting earlier that day outside Christian Fenger High School. Albert was beaten to death by three teenage thugs in front of the nearby Agape Community Center.

Following this horrifying murder, “Chicago police lined up in a show of force outside Fenger,” reported a local news account. “Students trickled into the school at staggered intervals through the morning. Most arrived on foot wearing their standard uniform of khaki pants and black shirts. Police patrolled the area in squad cars and staged a visible presence at the school’s entrance. `We want to provide reassurance to the public that there’s a police presence and they can feel safe in the neighborhood and kids can feel safe at school,’ said Morgan Park District Commander Michael Kuemmeth.”

Ah, yes — a “police presence” will be so reassuring to local parents, given the craven behavior of Chicago’s “Finest” during the actual murder of Derrion Albert: As the Chicago Tribune noted, “The first officers who arrived on the scene waited until backup arrived before they broke up the fight, witnesses said.”

That’s right: Armed “officers” — plural — sat by and refused to intervene while an innocent 16-year-old was beaten to death in front of them.

A report from a local CBS affiliate adds this critical detail: “When police arrived, three of [the Agape Community Center’s] staff went out to rescue a boy who was getting beaten by several others. The teen was later identified as Albert. Police waited with the staff members until the ambulance arrived to transport Albert, [Center Director Milton] Massie said.”

While the well-compensated armed heroes of the Chicago PD hesitated until they had the advantage of numbers, unarmed civilians intervened at personal risk in a genuinely heroic, albeit doomed, effort to save the honor roll student.

Since police have no legal or civil obligation to intervene to assist an individual citizen, none of the tax-fattened chair-moisteners who sat by and witnessed the murder of Derrion Albert will face personal or professional consequences.

The Chicago Police Department will probably capitalize on this tragedy to obtain more resources for its gang enforcement units — spectacularly corrupt paramilitary outfits that have traditionally terrorized the neighborhoods they supposedly protect. Four of the officers who participated in a police crime wave as part of the gang enforcement section were recently sentenced to six months in jail, a sentence so light it hardly qualifies as a slap on the wrist.

(Thanks to LRC reader Eli Cryderman for the tip.)

1:43 pm on September 28, 2009