Quick Hits – Death by a Thousand Cuts

Quick Hits – Death by a Thousand Cuts

One of the “joys” of turning 60 is the imminent prospect of staring your own mortality squarely in the eye. In that very vein, that plan to live forever notwithstanding, my wife and I just had our will done.

You’d think it would have been a somewhat sobering experience, but it turned out to be a rather fascinating proposition right down to bequeathing my vast superhero statue collection to one of my favorite Facebook friends.

There was an element of humor to it, too! When it came time to discuss what medical interventions might be applied to keep us alive, without hesitation, I declared, “Pull the plug,” and I made it clear that should be the case even in the case of mental incapacitation.

I have to say I was a little dismayed by how quickly my wife agreed to that course of action, but all things considered, can you really blame her?

Before y’all get too excited, that end-of-life determination must be made by my wife and a medical professional – not my “adoring throng.” So, any reader petition drive in that regard would be patently pointless. The plan continues to be to stick around and torture you for as long as I possibly can.

Put more simply, I have absolutely no interest in lingering in a persistent vegetative state because some things truly are worse than death. And one of those things would most certainly be walking in Elgin Police Lieutenant Chris Jensen’s current shoes.


I understand that, because justice is blind, she tends to bump into a lot of things in her quest for the truth, but Lt. Jensen has been on administrative since Decynthia Clements was shot and killed at that fateful I-90 traffic stop on March 12, 2018.

That adds up to 16 months, 2 days, and 9.5 hours, which is far too long to leave someone twisting in the wind. That’s especially true when you consider both the Illinois State Police and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office cleared Jensen of any possible criminal charges back in early March.

Sure, the private consultant’s investigation found that Jensen violated some minor department protocol, but those “offenses,” even if combined, don’t nearly amount to a case for termination. All we’re talking about is a letter of reprimand or a brief suspension.

So, what the bleep is the City of Elgin waiting for, a sign from God? Sorry! But that kinda thing only happens in Blues Brothers movies. Reinstate Lt Jensen NOW! Three separate independent and unbiased agencies ruled the shooting was justified and that’s the only thing that really matters.

But at this bleepin’ drawn out point, it appears as if Elgin is trying to stave off the inevitable by dragging their feet. C’mon! You know it’s gonna hurt when you finally yank that sticky bandage off, so just do it quickly and get it over with.

Then the City seems bent on placating the vocal minority who’d place Jensen’s head on the end of a pike regardless of any investigatory findings. But that kind of appeasement is beyond futile. The mob won’t settle for anything less than blood and nothing’s going to change that.

Those folks refuse to believe the City Council and Mayor lack the power to fire Jensen. They refuse to believe the three agencies that cleared him. And they refuse to believe that, if fired, especially in light of Councilmen Tish Powell’s and Cory Dixon’s determined decision to ignore good legal advice and open their mouths at every turn, Jensen will win a hefty settlement AND get his job back.

Remember what happened when Elgin fired officer Jason Lentz for unforgivably racist social media posts? He’s back on the job, isn’t he? And the longer this “investigation” drags on, the worse the rabble’s reaction will be at the inevitable reinstatement result.

The late 49’ers coach Bill Walsh’s described a fascinating team dynamic in his book on leadership, ‘The Score Takes Care of Itself,’ and it applies to any group effort. He said that, on a reasonably functioning football team, 80 percent of players love the coach and 20 percent don’t regardless of external influences like wins and losses.

Walsh said the problem was, if the 20 percent were allowed to peddle their poison unchecked, it would start to infect the 80 percent, and the team would rapidly descend into dysfunction. The solution was to silence or rotate those disgruntled folks off the team.

Similarly, because Elgin is either incapable of or simply refuses to frame the message correctly, the anti-Jensen minority – and it is a minority – is gaining momentum. Not only is there now an Elgin billboard calling for Jensen’s head, but a community activist group submitted a 1,600-signature petition demanding he be fired.

Those signers may amount to a mere 1.4 percent of all Elgin residents, but it’s another sign that the “infection” is growing and Elgin is losing the messaging battle. That, of course, begs the question, where are Mayor David Kaptain and Communications Manager Molly Center?

Kaptain can be a formidable communicator when he chooses to apply that skill, while Center is the least effective municipal communications manager I’ve ever met. There’s never been a better time for the Mayor to step in, and if Center can’t frame a reasonable message when it’s beyond critical to do so, perhaps she’s better suited to another gig.

Now the City is talking about a discussion of the consultant’s finding before Jensen’s disposition is determined, which is only going to allow the wound to further fester. As our Italian friends would likely interject, “basta!”

Elgin! With the handwriting clearly on the wall, reinstate Lt. Jensen NOW and let’s bring this sad chapter in Elgin’s long history to a reasonable conclusion. If disciplinary measures are required as result of the procedural lapses, then do it. But don’t waste any more of our or Jensen’s time on meaningless discussions that won’t change anyone’s mind.

There’s nothing worse than a slow death by 1,000 cuts, so stop the bleeding.


21 thoughts on “Quick Hits – Death by a Thousand Cuts

  1. Thank you for finally addressing the fate of Lt. Jensen! With the information the City has received, it is decision time! Time to move on, so Lt Jensen and his family can get on with their lives! They have suffered long enough!

  2. Great article, Jeff. You piece highlights what I believe to be a systemic problem within our culture, and you used the one word that sums it up beautifully! PLACATE. We’re in serious trouble in this country, and Officer Jensen is likely living out his worst nightmare Every. Single. Day.

  3. “Those folks refuse to believe the City Council and Mayor lack the power to fire Jensen.” Don’t fall for it, Jeff. The council WILL decide his fate. Lalley will recommend to Kozal, Kozal will run to the nine council members via phone or face-to-face (to avoid being FOIA’d) and the first five to say yes/no will make it happen. We have done it before on other firings. This is much bigger. Two are in already with the firings. Lopez leans that way so Kozal only needs two more to get the firing. The initiative-lacking Kozal will not fall on his sword for any of his employees.

    “Those signers may amount to a mere 1.4 percent of all Elgin residents,” Resident numbers include infants, disabled people, illegal aliens, etc., and since the voter turnout was only about 9% last April that IS significant. Even if you toss out half of that 1600, it’s big. Voters can only fire elected officials every two years and can never fire a cop or city manager.

    “Kaptain can be a formidable communicator when he chooses to apply that skill,” What the Hell? Mayor Weakling does not have a twin, you know. You must be mistaken. He jumps in fear when he hears elevator doors closing.

    If the Lt. is fired, sues to get his job back and win, the council’s firing of him is a win. They can always blame the courts.

  4. This entire ordeal is ridiculous. The moment he was cleared by the Illinois State Police and Cook County State’s Attorney’s office, everything after is a moot point yet the city holds Powell’s and Dixon’s hands as though to conjure up something, anything that will give them reason to fire Jensen. Every board member who thought he was guilty BEFORE any investigation was even completed, should step down and get the f*ck out of politics. This is police work and if you don’t have the stomach for it, step away from the game.

    I’m sorry, maybe they didn’t “denounce” Jensen, but voicing absolutely no support for him, was worse than denouncing him, and they knew it.

    1. Jim,

      I’ve been trying to be a bit more circumspect with this one because the last thing a journalist wants to do is make the situation worse. But this has officially moved to the “beyond the pale” point.

      And I agree with you on the no support is almost worst than going after you.

  5. When I was running for City Council this last election cycle we were constantly asked about the shooting and the disposition of Lt. Jensen. I, like other candidates, agreed it was (and still is) a tragic event. The loss of life under any circumstance is heart-breaking. However, I consistently stated I would not be judgemental and give my opinion until the investigations had been completed and the results released to the public. Well, that’s happened and I agree with you Jeff and other that Lt. Jensen should be reinstated if he wishes to be with perhaps some appropriate disciplinary action for violation of procedural issues. The fact that two Council Members have consistently called for his head prior to the reports’ completion is simply wrong and that wrong is compounded when they have done it from the dais and other venues representing us a elected City officials. They are supposed to represent all of us in Elgin, not just the few. And with this matter along with trying to ram down a change in the RV ordinance to allow increased parking in residential areas did not and does not represent the MAJORITY of us City folks. These people were elected “AT LARGE”, not just for a few. Time to ask them to step down from the Council?

  6. Sir…your reference to Officer Lentz’s posts as being “unforgivably racist” is extremely unfair and absolutely untrue! If you know him, you would know how dedicated he is to his job and racism is not on his agenda. The fact that he was reinstated substantiates that he did nothing wrong. You owe him an apology for trying to besmirch his good name.

    We fully support the reinstatement of Officer Jensen and hope this happens in the very near future.

    1. Wallie,

      Sadly, there is absolutely no other way to interpret those posts regarding Ferguson, Missouri as the protesters and the victims were all black. Thus, no apology will be forthcoming.

      Larry Jones and I did correctly predict he’d be back on the force on our former radio show, but Mr. Lentz is exactly the kind of person who should avoid public service and law enforcement in particular

      And as far as any “besmirching” goes, Officer Lentz did that on his own. I simply used it for example purposes.


  7. “Remember what happened when Elgin fired officer Jason Lentz for unforgivably racist social media posts?”

    That entire ordeal was “manufactured” by Jeff Swoboda to get publicity and fame on the heels of Ferguson. It worked. In the end, it was finally announced that Lentz had done nothing wrong at all, and got his job back The Arbitrator even scolded the City and the Police Chief for releasing information to the press BEFORE the investigation was even over. Had they waited, they would have seen there was nothing wrong. It’s still beyond me why he lost any pay at all but he was just happy to be back to work.

    Once again though, the person behind the scenes pulling Traci D. Ellis’ strings, was none other than Tish Powell. She also rounded up all the same clergy to spew all the same BS they did Lentz, for Jensen. When will people wake up and see what a cankor-sore she is on this city?

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