You can argue easily that the culture of ratification within any U.S. police department (e.g., Ferguson, Mo., New York, Chicago) that has been publicly scrutinized in 2014 serves to protect itself. However, this self-preservation these agencies exercise to defend themselves against legal and community pressure to stop corruption and malfeasance within its ranks ultimately hurts the agencies themselves. The bad press, the lawsuits, and the pervasive community mistrust are just a few outcomes police departments—like the Chicago Police Department (CPD), for example—have had to deal with for decades, as a result of this ratifying (i.e., sanctioning or approval) mentality embraced by leadership in regard to an agency’s own misdeeds or even illegal activity.
But given the high-profile police misconduct (i.e., excessive force and outright torture) allegations and legal cases that have resulted in almost laughable legal slaps on the wrist for accused police officers, the CPD has historically benefitted from its unofficial ratification policy.
Take yet another case of the CPD protecting its own in light of charges of misconduct. Four years ago, Chicago police officer, Patrick Kelly, and his friend, Michael LaPorta, were hanging out in Kelly’s place when LaPorta was shot in head with Kelly’s gun. According to Kelly, LaPorta attempted suicide. LaPorta now requires 24-hour care and is paralyzed on the right side of his body. In a lawsuit, the LaPorta family claims the CPD knew Kelly had at least 15 complaints against him for excessive force and misconduct, but he was allowed to continue on the force. Kelly is currently on active duty.
Though with national protests against police misconduct and even the U.S. Attorney General weighing in on the issue, ratification seems to be catching up with the CPD and other police departments across the nation. The ratification culture within the police needs to change; it’s too bad citizens had to die and millions of taxpayer dollars had to be wasted for this change to happen.