The Chicago police union president decried an unprecedented “level of disrespect” faced by officers on the street and called for more vocal public support of police, saying, “There’s a deafening silence out there right now.”

In a speech Tuesday to the City Club of Chicago, Dean Angelo Sr. complained that officers’ hands are being tied by “anti-police correctness” and warned that as a byproduct Chicago is headed back to the days of 900 homicides a year. He said homicides will probably reach 700 this year.

Angelo repeatedly rebuked the news media for fanning the discontent against Chicago police, suggesting they are doing it to sell newspapers and boost ratings. Though he never specifically referred to the infamous Laquan McDonald shooting video, he was especially critical of news operations for replaying videos of alleged misconduct involving officers “as if it’s a Super Bowl-winning touchdown.”

“It’s played over and over and over again until it’s embedded in the audience’s mind,” Angelo told about 200 civic leaders at the luncheon. “If it’s not edited before it gets to the media, they edit it just enough to give somebody that oh-my-gosh moment.”

Angelo’s public appeal comes as the Police Department faces an unprecedented crisis — a U.S. Justice Department probe amid the fallout over the video of McDonald being shot 16 times, a dispirited rank-and-file and violence surging at levels not seen since the late 1990s.

The Fraternal Order of Police president tried to walk a fine line, saying that police continue to do their jobs effectively, taking guns off the streets and making thousands of narcotics arrests, but at the same time he spoke of street stops plummeting by more than 150,000 so far this year. He denied a so-called “Ferguson effect” has led to the slowdown, instead blaming the more extensive paperwork that officers must fill out this year for every stop because of racial-profiling concerns. But he also acknowledged that many officers feel “no one has their backs.”

“We have an Orlando every month in Chicago, and no one seems to raise an eyebrow,” he said in reference to the mass shooting in Florida earlier this month that took 49 lives. “But catch a policeman hitting somebody on a video — oh, my God!”

Police nationwide and especially in Chicago are facing “a level of disrespect” that Angelo said now-retired officers had never encountered even during the 1968 Democratic convention or the riots after the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

“In some areas of our city, nearly every contact with the public is met with a level of confrontation,” he said. People are taking smartphone videos of officers “hoping for a payday,” he said. “And officers are regularly baited and literally, literally called every name in the book just to get a rise out of them, just to get a reaction.”

Angelo said he can’t wait for the city to release unedited videos from officers’ body cameras “so you get to see what they see and what they deal with.”

He complained that “everybody and their sister” wants to make changes in policing and called it “a dangerous time” if the views of those “who have never strapped a weapon on” are given credibility.

He also criticized the City Council and the Illinois General Assembly for legislating “from on high” and not taking input from “real police.”

Angelo said the “perception” among many police officers is that nobody has their backs, “that they’ve become a second-class citizen.”

“Perceptions are real, and this is how they feel,” he said.

Angelo also said officers believe they’ll be punished for “the least type of confrontation or physical contact” as part of “this new anti-police correctness” era.

Angelo said the FOP sometimes feels alone in speaking out for police, and he again singled out the media for criticism.

“We’ve got friends in the media, but it doesn’t sell. We’ve got friends at newspapers, but it doesn’t sell newspapers,” he said.

Angelo spoke of how poverty, drug activity and violence have gone hand in hand for generations as he displayed slides of abandoned buildings and empty lots on the West Side.

“You can’t police your way out of this, but you look to police to deal with the fallout,” he said.

Angelo also tried to put a positive light on the number of people shot by Chicago police officers over a recent eight-year period — 404 — suggesting it could have been far worse given that during that same period police arrested 3,740 people armed with guns, he said.

He said a statistic that goes unnoticed is the more than 13,000 officers who have been battered on the job over that same eight-year period.

He spoke of an El Salvadoran cartoonist whose work the FOP recently ran in its monthly magazine. The country had attempted to make a truce with the criminal element — only to have “a bull’s-eye” placed on police and the bad guys allowed to run free, Angelo said.

One cartoon showed a blindfolded Lady Justice patting the head of “a little gangbanger” who’s armed with a gun while a police officer is being led off to jail, Angelo said. “The world is upside down,” the cartoon said in Spanish, a theme Angelo repeated during his remarks.

“We’re right here right now” in Chicago, he said.

Angelo strongly denied officers are lying down on the job in frustration or anger over the increased scrutiny.

“No one is backing off calls for service,” he said. “No one is not taking police action when it is required.”

But he said officers have been handcuffed in their ability to get the job done.

“We’ve limited the officers’ ability to put people on the wall (as) we called it when I was” in the gang crimes unit, the 36-year department veteran said.

He then launched into criticism of the laborious paperwork for every street stop that is slowing down officers’ work on the street — and affecting the rise in violence in Chicago so far this year.

A state law mandated the change after an analysis of the department’s own data by the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois showed that Chicago police stopped African-Americans at a disproportionately higher rate than Hispanics and whites, especially in predominantly white neighborhoods.

Angelo said state legislators ignored his warnings against saddling officers with the extensive paperwork, saying he predicted at the time a return to 900 murders a year.

“We’ve got to re-examine this,” he said. “If you don’t take the corner back or if you give the corner back, you lose the corner, you lose the block, you lose the community and we’re at 900 (homicides).”

After his speech, Angelo fielded several questions from reporters. He said he wished the media realized that police officers are human.

“We take care of sick parents. We go to service on the weekends. We coach Little League. We’ve got soccer moms, hockey dads. We have bills. We have mortgages. We have tuitions, and most of us have several jobs.”


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