Training, Chicago Style

Whenever something goes awry in how the police deal with a controversial situation, especially if its captured on video so it’s not readily deniable, the first line of defense is to claim that it can be fixed by training.  Training is another one of those magic words that make people think that the entire cop culture pivots on a few lectures. Yup, that’ll fix it.

And of the many police departments whose reputation for violence, deceit and impropriety have hit the news with unfortunate regularity, Chicago’s is right up there with the best of them. And it’s not just the failing of their beat cops, but those who are charged with investigating the beat cops.

So, dammit, Chicago plans to do something about it!

The agency that investigates Chicago police shootings is beginning a week of training led by a controversial psychologist who often testifies in support of officers who have shot civilians, WBEZ has learned.

A controversial psychologist?  A curious choice. Who is this trainer, and why is he controversial?

Independent Police Review Authority investigators and supervisors on Monday will begin a five-day course led by Bill Lewinski, founder and leader of the Minnesota-based Force Science Institute, according to internal IPRA records.

Wait, Lewinski?  Bill Lewinski? This Bill Lewinski?

“This training is extraordinarily important and was very difficult to make possible,” IPRA Supervising Investigator Joshua T. Hunt wrote in email to the agency’s staff.

Why it was “very difficult to make possible” is scary. It would seem that paying this cop-killer-slut a fee would make it remarkably easy to make possible.  There doesn’t seem to be much Lewinski won’t do for a buck.  But that’s just capitalism at work, and this being America, it’s hard to fault him for wearing hot pants.

But the fact that Chicago has chosen to train the cops who investigate other cops for killing people by using Bill Lewinski makes very clear its direction.  There is no one, absolutely no one, more adept at coming up with excuses for cop killings better than Lewinski.

Lewinski has testified about at least seven shootings by Chicago officers, a WBEZ review of his consulting work has found. Each time, the psychologist invoked science to help justify the lethal force.

Those cases are among dozens of police shootings across North America in which Lewinski has defended the officers as an expert witness. But that work faces more challenges as scientists raise flags about his research.

Well, let’s be a bit more circumspect about what we call “science,” given that Lewinski’s brand consists exclusively of his own, non-peer reviewed, non-replicable, batshit crazy shoot first because, well, just shoot first and hire him to get you off later, type of science.

As it turns out, these cop-shooting investigators are already familiar with Lewinski’s “science.”

This week’s course is the second time Lewinski has trained IPRA’s staff. The first was a two-day session last year, according to the records, obtained by WBEZ through an Illinois Freedom of Information Act request.

Of course, that was just a two-day session, which means there are tons of excuses for killing that they have yet to learn.  It’s hard to imagine they can fit all the excuses into just a five-day session.  After all, the number of ways in which cops can maim and kill are infinite, and it can take a lot of time to come up with really good excuses for all of it.

Does Chicago’s administration really believe that having its investigatory arm trained by the nation’s foremost cop apologist is a good idea? You bet it does.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration is defending its link to Lewinski. Training for investigating police shootings is “highly specialized and very difficult to find,” a written statement from IPRA Chief Administrator Scott M. Ando says.

“We are constantly looking for high-quality training for our investigators through universities and other models,” Ando’s statement says. “Our hope is that more training opportunities relative to [police shootings] will become available.”

Universities? Oh, and “other models.”  If one wasn’t quite clear of the background of the fellow providing this “high quality training,” one might perceive Chicago’s efforts as being worthwhile, an attempt to clean up the violence and misconduct that’s proven rampant on the windy streets.  Really, doesn’t it sound as if they are doing everything possible to provide the citizens of Chicago with the best possible training?

Of about 400 civilian shootings by police that IPRA has investigated since 2007, the agency has found the officers at fault in only two, both off-duty incidents. IPRA has never concluded that an on-duty shooting was unjustified.

And with proper training, they can surely do better.  Those two at-fault shooting, even off-duty, will never happen again.  Not that the cops will stop shooting, but that the investigators will find fault.  With Lewinski’s training, they will have a ready excuse for every cop shooting, no matter what. Problem solved.

6 thoughts on “Training, Chicago Style

  1. mb

    Yeah but,

    Where do you suppose they got the idea that “training” was the answer to every problem? Maybe from the reformers themselves? Maybe this training isn’t actually that much more useless than all the various types of “sensitivity” trainings they have to do. And, as an added bonus, they get to give the money to their friend this time.

    When most of the loudest voices in opposition are espousing weird, conspiratorial theories about how everything bad that happens is because white dudes have all the power, some bullshit training is at least as good as a response. Somebody like you or me, who would like to see better enforcement of existing law when cops are involved, can just be disappeared into the noise.

    With the advent of ubiquitous camera phones, cops got the opportunity to either use the evidence to its fullest extent or demonstrate the invincibility of their rationalizations. And at precisely the same time, victimhood became the most valuable currency any group could have. Are you really surprised cops would seek instruction on how to believe that they’re the real victims?

    1. SHG Post author

      Falling back on “training” has a magic, soothing effect on the nerves of restless natives. Don’t blame the trainers, who are just trying to make a quick buck.

  2. John Barleycorn

    ~~There is “little to no substantive focus on de-escalation in NYPD’s training programs,” the report said, and once recruits graduated to the beat, they often mixed aggression with incompetence.~~

    WTF! You want a bunch of diplomats out there serving and protecting or some soldiers do get the job done and enforce the peace?

  3. Timothy Knox

    I accidentally misread this as “Each time, the psychologist invoked science to help justify the lethal farce.” But then I decided that the author of the quoted passage mis-wrote “lethal force” rather than vice versa.

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