Freeze-out: Chicago PD turn backs on Lightfoot after officer killed in line of duty

Did Lori Lightfoot get the message? Chicago police made it quiet but clear when she showed up at the hospital, where colleagues held a vigil for mortally wounded officer Ella French and her wounded partner. They closed ranks and turned their backs on the mayor, while the officer’s father blasted Lightfoot for creating a far more dangerous environment in the city for its law enforcement personnel.

The local ABC affiliate calls this “one of the biggest challenges of her career.” If so, it’s entirely self-inflicted:

As part of the Community Safety Team, 15th Ward Alderman Ray Lopez said French and her partner had sat around a table in his ward office a few months ago. Lopez called what happened to them “horrific,” but he suggested that perhaps it was not unexpected, given the political climate.

“Criminals feel emboldened to attack whomever willingly, without regard for who they are, whether they are citizen or officer, and I think a lot of that falls on the political rhetoric that has led up to this point,” Lopez said.

The officers at the hospital made their own statement to Mayor Lightfoot when she arrived on the 7th floor to visit the wounded officer.

A photo sent to ABC7 Eyewitness News by the Fraternal Order of Police President purportedly captured a moment when the officers turned their back on the mayor. The FOP said she was just out of sight on the left.

French’s father didn’t remain quiet about his perspective:

Mayor Lori Lightfoot was given the cold shoulder by CPD rank and file about midnight Saturday at the University of Chicago Medical Center when she approached them on the 7th floor as they grappled with the shootings of two fellow officers.

Chicago Police Officer Ella French was shot and killed during a traffic stop Saturday night in West Englewood, while her partner continues to fight for his life at the hospital. Three people are in custody.

Just moments before about 30 officers turned their backs on the mayor, Lightfoot tried to talk to the male officer’s father, who himself is a retired Chicago police officer. He clearly wanted nothing to do with Lightfoot, according to two sources who were there.

The father excoriated the mayor and blamed her for what had happened. One source said Lightfoot handled herself well as the father yelled at her. She listened and treated him with respect.

Well, Lightfoot gets one merit for maintaining her composure and several thousand demerits for how she’s handled the police in her city until now. Like many in urban leadership, Lightfoot has joined the progressive pile-on on law enforcement over the past year, and police have clearly had it with her and the city’s leadership. Even before they turned their backs on Lightfoot this weekend, Chicago’s finest have been voting with their feet:

In just the first six months of this year, 367 officers retired. … Data obtained through public records shows in 2017, 37 officers left the department before being eligible for a pension. So far this year that number is nearly double with 68 officers.

For those who are retiring with their pension, that number has been climbing steadily over the years:

In 2018 there were 339 retirements. The following year in 2019, there were 475. In 2020, there were 560 retirements. And already this year: 367 just through the month of June.

The ambush shooting of two officers is certainly a big challenge for Lightfoot, especially given her poisonous relationship with the CPD. It’s the drain of resources from the police force that is the biggest challenge facing the city, especially as it has been driven by public policy that de-emphasizes prosecution and overlooks crime.

Finally, the two quotes at the end of this ABC affiliate report are stunningly ironic. Both aldermen attempt to defend Lightfoot by saying that “we shouldn’t be pointing fingers” at the mayor, and that the only people who should be blamed are “those that are responsible for this senseless murder.” Had people taken that same attitude toward individual police officers who commit crime, American cities wouldn’t be experiencing historic explosions of crime, and police wouldn’t be looking for the exits. And if the mayor isn’t the person most accountable for creating and perpetuating that environment, who is?