Blinded by the white!

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.

GPDThat 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?

Nope!

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!

21 thoughts on “Blinded by the white!

  1. . . I have a funny feeling . . the next time you get pulled over (any minute now) a slice of lunchmeat will wind up on your bumper and the doggies will go nuts . . they will search your car and find POUNDS of drugs and explosives . . . and a back seat full of underage hookers as well . . .

    Good luck with that . . . . Don’t drop the soap . . . .

  2. . . Then . . Jeff . . They are going to find Jimmy Hoffa under your basement floor . . .

  3. But Jeff, if they gave you what you want (and what they’re supposed to give) that would take all the fun out of it. Think about it (which they obviously aren’t): eventually you’re going to get the info and write about it. In the meantime, you get to write these articles about each step of the struggle. All they’re doing is dragging it out.

    • Jeff,

      Your post is prescient and incredibly fucking funny because I was, literally, just talking to my radio co-host about your very point. And you’re dead on because I told Larry that my fondest wish is for Geneva to keep fighting me on this one every step of the way for the all the reasons you cited.

      It’s far more fun to have them refuse me, especially when you consider that I’m not so sure that many Hispanics apply to the GPD. Meanwhile, I will write about this battle, and put it on the radio show, every step of the way. The end result, of course, is that Geneva comes out of it looking really bad and racist (and they actually are racist).

      What’s even funnier is, I’ve been posting a link to this post on Geneva’s Facebook page all day. And every time they take it down, I put it back up. So now they’ve eliminated comments and posts to their Facebook page.

      Meanwhile, having completely fallen prey to my middle school mentality, I’m laughing my ass off and having a great day.

      Life is good Jeff!

      Jeff

    • Jeff,

      Oh! And by the way, this post is getting a lot of hits and it isn’t even the evening yet!

      Jeff

  4. Elgin doesn’t fare much better. Off the top of my head the city is 44% Hispanic with a large percentage of that being non bi-lingual. The PD is something just less than 20% Hispanic with no records that I’ve seen on bi-lingual. The PD did just do a recruiting trip to Puerto Rico for a little over $5K of taxpayer money. Close to 200 applicants there, 3 made the cut, none were hired. There was a swearing in of 8 new officers the other day. Exactly one had a Hispanic sur name. The department did just spend something like $2500 on Rosetta Stone like software but participation is apparently voluntary with no incentives to participate.

    • And that one w/ the Hispanic surname might not even speak Spanish anyway. A number of years ago District 131 (East Aurora) put all the Hispanics into bilingual education — and found quite a few who were English-only speakers.

      • Jeff, I found his swearing in picture. He’s Hispanic! But wait till you hear the latest which I’m just about to post. I’m gonna call you The Great Carnac!

      • Assumptions seem to work that way sometime! I have to say Elgin is trying in some way to balance the scales. Effective as it could or should be or not, the attempt seems to be better than the one Jeff is pointing out here. I just wish they had started over 20 years ago so the force better mirrors the population.

  5. What the hell is the point of this article? Why are you making a non issue into an issue?

    • Sarah,

      The points are thus:

      1. In 2015 in a County that’s 41 percent minority, the Geneva Police Department is 97.2 percent white. Perhaps that may be why the GPD stops and tickets and inordinately high percentage of minority drivers.

      2. A City that, by law, must post their police eligibility lists, not only fails to do that, but fights their release while passing that bill onto the taxpayers. They’re trying to hide something.

      3. It is time to determine if minorities are applying to suburban police departments and not being hired, or, as some chiefs claim, minorities aren’t applying.

      I hope this helps.

      Jeff

      • Jeff, I’m with you that Geneva should have more minority officers, and agree on points 2 & 3, but I read an article someplace that indicated that even the minority officers stop and ticket minority drivers more.

  6. I couldn’t refrain from commenting. Very well written!

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