And we’re not talking about our recent snowstorm either. Now that Eddie Jackson has moved to head of court security for the Kane County Sheriff’s office, the Geneva Police Department has all of one, count ‘em, one, minority officer.
I wasn’t sure how to finish that sentence because it begs for a plural ending, but you can’t add an “s” to the end of a word when you’re only talking about one of them.
That means, in 2014, in a county that’s 41 percent minority (not counting Asians), in a department of 35 sworn constables, 2.8 percent of them are minorities (There goes that plural problem again!). And if you’ve noticed, virtually all of the GPD support staff are white too.
Even Geneva itself, the place from which white folks sprang forth, a city which has long been 95 plus percent Caucasian, now boasts an 8 percent minority population. All I can say is there must be days when Officer Maldonado feels like he’s living out an episode of the Twilight Zone.
And even if we continue to count Officer Jackson, it still means that the Ferguson, Missouri Police Department has a higher percentage of non-whites than the GPD. And I don’t care what any police chief says, at best, it requires an unconscious effort to drive those kind of stilted numbers. At worst, it’s something else entirely.
Thus, in light of DH reporter Jake Griffin’s excellent piece on collar county police departments generally being 90 percent white, a few months ago, I set out to determine whether some suburban chiefs’ contention that minorities simply aren’t applying was true.
Though former St. Charles and current Schaumburg Police Chief Jim Lamkin has always been a straight shooter, as that famous liberal Ronald Reagan once said, “Trust, but verify.”
So given my current residency, I decided to start with the City of Geneva. But I soon discovered that no department tracks the race of officer applicants and the FOIA laws don’t apply to folks who didn’t get the gig. Faced with that quandary, I turned to one of my favorite former managing editors who, once again, came up with a magnificently simple solution. “FOIA the eligibility lists,” he said, “Most of them are public anyway.”
So that’s exactly what I did!
The theory being that, armed with the names of all those potential officers and the fact that Kane County is 31 percent Hispanic, much like the methodology I used to determine Officer Maldonado’s heritage, one could quickly ascertain whether minorities weren’t applying to the GPD, or they weren’t being hired.
Sounds simple right?
Because the City of Geneva is fighting me tooth and nail on this one. While you can avail yourselves of Aurora’s list right here, and you can review South Elgin’s list here, Geneva is guarding that information with all the vigor of an NSA middle manager. In fact, we’re already in the middle of round two with the Public Access Counselor, an arm of the Attorney General’s Office that mediates FOIA disputes.
Though, when you consider how the PAC responded to Geneva’s initial refusal, I do believe I’m winning on points.
I’ve also FOIA’d the eligibility list test scores as well as copies of the tests Geneva uses to screen applicants which sent the assistant city manager into full blown conniptions. C’mon! Just because they say they’re following the hiring rules doesn’t make it true.
And I gotta tell ya! A 97.2 percent Caucasian police force really has to make you wonder.
As far as my FOIAs go, I would remind Geneva of something our law enforcement officers often like to say to minorities during a traffic stop, “You shouldn’t have a problem with a consent search of your vehicle as long as you have nothing to hide.”
This one ain’t over folks. I promise I’ll keep you posted!