Friday, September 14, 2007

The gang's all here

"Being a member of a gang is not unlawful.”
Elgin Police Chief Lisa Womack July 30, 2007

Here’s a list of publicized gang activities in Elgin.
July 5th – Shell casings and blood stains found in the College Street area.
July 26th – Two young Hispanic males killed and three others injured on North Street.
August 30th – Rival gangs shoot at each other outside Sheridan Elementary School 15 minutes after school lets out.
September 8th – Black gangs have a shoot out near Drake Field while a football game is in progress.
September 12th – Chief Womack reports to the city council on the problem.
September 12th – A teenager riding his bike was shot in the back on Channing Street, allegedly the victim of crossfire between gang members in cars.

We now have the routine down. There is a shooting, then there is a community meeting. The Chief shows up and tells everyone that crime is down in Elgin. The mayor denies the scope of the problem. Listen to what our leaders have said in response to the problem:

Chief Womack:
"We are watching. We have been watching.”

"What occurred on Saturday was happenstance, folks. It was the wrong place at the wrong time. What we have are rival gang members that have a known dispute. It had nothing to do with the football games at the time." (She then admitted that rival gang members were in the stands watching the football game.)

"I would be absolutely furious if this happened at any event where my child was. We're going to handle the security in the short term and look at the long term." (Use some empathy. Empathy is good, especially if you don’t have answers.)

“Throughout Elgin, there has been a steady decline in felony gang activity.”
“This has happened as the city's Hispanic population has grown. There is no correlation between a rising immigrant population and gang-related crimes. A lot of people are trying to make that tie, but we have had a decrease in our crime rate for many years."
"It's not about the neighborhood; it's about specific people.”
"There is never an acceptable homicide rate. Zero is the only acceptable number when it comes to this rate."

“Despite these incidents, violent crime, including those connected to known gang members, is still down in 2007.” (That’s good. It means she’ll get a nice raise this year.)

"It's unfortunate that generally gang-related violence is gang member on gang member for some perceived slight or dispute. It's also unfortunate that these gang members engage in these actions with absolutely no regard to the risk they are placing innocent bystanders in."

Mayor Schock:
"I live in a neighborhood with its share of gang problems. I'm always amazed by the level of denial of adults when kids get involved with gang activity."

"These gang members were riding through and saw someone they knew or thought they knew. It had nothing to do with Drake Field." (Nice thought, Mr. Mayor, but Chief Womack said the two men arrested, and the victims, were there to watch family members play football.)

“These random acts could happen anywhere.”
Asked what he could say to assuage any fears about Elgin being a dangerous place, Schock said, "For some people, probably nothing would convince them that Elgin is safe. Probably nothing I or anyone else can say would make them feel better or safer."

"Very frustrated, very angry, I'm sure like most Elginites, that a few miscreants can make it difficult for our community and everybody in it. We've been making tremendous progress reducing crime. So when something like this happens, it's just so frustrating."

Council member Mike Powers:
"When this stuff happens it really is disconcerting on a lot of levels. I'm absolutely concerned. I'm raising a family in this town. It's unfortunately and ultimately unacceptable to have guys shooting up our town."

Police Lt. Cecil Smith:
"Right now we're going through hopefully a short trend of disruption. The police are aware of it. The citizens of the community should feel as safe as they normally do."
"We're not the small village we were 20 years ago. Some of these things are bound to occur. Our job is to alert and inform our citizens that things are going on. Let them know the city is a safe place to be."

When I listen to these leaders, I get the feeling that they see it as a PR problem. They are playing a numbers game that involves votes and pay raises. I can see now that Womack was hired from Texas, not because she was a tough cop, but because she could get along with minorities. The objective is not to clean up crime in the streets but rather keep everyone happy.

And the foreign-born in Elgin have zero respect for that kind of police work. When 8,000 residents of this town snuck into the country, stole someone’s identity, get their wages paid under the table, skip out on medical bills, and drive without license or insurance…AND GET AWAY WITH IT YEAR AFTER YEAR…what respect do they have for our laws? And perhaps more importantly, what kind of parents are they?

Perhaps the Mexican Police can give us some pointers on law enforcement. It certainly won’t involve a McGruff costume.


  1. How about if we let law enforcement do their jobs and quit harassing them for doing it? no doubt, there are really bad officers out there (hello former Ofc. M), but the majority of cops want to do their jobs and go home at night. enforcement beceoms impossible when politics get in the way. Throw in community inactivity and a culture that celebrated the so-called "thug life" and you get a world where gang memebers run amock and the community has to live with it.

    Prevention is the key, but how about some of these parents grabbing their kids by the ears, old school style, and beating some sense into them? That seems to be the only message these idiots are able to comprehend.

  2. Cops are like school teachers in my opinion. The higher up in the administration they get, the less likely they are to get anything done.
    I suppose corporations are like that, too, but it is soooooo apparent when they put PC over getting the job done.
    Parents are far too willing to excuse behavior and stick up for their kids when they should be coming down on their kids.