The First Ward Report – Police reform or just political pandering? – Part 2

Considering how I rambled on for over 900 words in Part 1, for brevity’s sake, if you need to fill in the background blanks, please refer to Monday’s piece.

Our premise going forward is the police reforms primarily promoted by Elgin Alderpersons Corey Dixon and Tish Powell at last week’s City Council meeting are more about pandering to their public than they are about any real change.

Again, I’m all for reasonable, well-considered, and incremental police reform, but reform simply for reform’s or political expediency’s sake always makes matters worse – much worse. It’s in that very vein that I have three major issues with this pointless post George Floyd death push.

And the first one is, if this truly isn’t a case of preaching to the progressive choir, then why now? Dixon, Powell, and their liberal council compatriots have had the votes to start this process for the last three years, but they’ve simply been sitting on their hands.

Elgin City Councilwoman Tish Powell

Pandering and political expediency are particularly perilous when the council reaction is clearly of the knee-jerk variety. We’ve already discussed how an Elgin Police Department residency requirement can backfire on a number of levels, and an astute reader added,

Many teachers, as well as police officers, do not wish to live and socialize in the city in which they work. It can be very uncomfortable to see one of your professional contacts in a social setting.


Not to mention the education and law enforcement debate has risen to a fever pitch in these hyper partisan times. Put more simply, does Elgin want to severely limit their police officer recruitment pool in this way?

So, yes! I question Dixon’s and Powell’s timing. If they were serious about police reform, it would’ve already be happening.

My second issue is the massive hypocrisy of Dixon’s furious but doomed-to-fail attempts to serve two masters. I may not be a Christian, but the Bible was dead on in this regard:

No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.

What Corey fails to mention in his frequent self-righteous dais-borne declarations is, despite his abject lack of the basic qualifications, he landed a plum 75 grand plus benefits patronage position in the Kane County Sheriff’s Office. To be fair, I’ve heard he’s doing a good job, but that doesn’t begin to mitigate the fact he never should’ve been hired in the first place.

So, while the Councilman regularly rails against the EPD, he’s been conspicuously silent about the office for which he toils. This is a perfect example of why the two-master dynamic is eternally flawed, and Dixon needs to choose between his job and his political aspiration. He clearly can’t succeed at both.

When I think of real police reform, the first possibility that comes to mind is eliminating those BS asset forfeiture laws. Sheriff Ron Hain certainly hasn’t abused that kind of institutionalized theft, but his predecessor did. So, where’s Corey? Ron Hain won’t always be our sheriff.

Put more simply, will Dixon push the Sheriff’s Office to adopt the same “reforms” he’s thrusting upon Elgin, because any other possibility would be beyond disingenuous.

To make matters much worse, Dixon’s insistence on needlessly pummeling the EPD has cost the Sheriff all the support he once had from those officers, not to mention soliciting a significant morale loss among Hain’s own deputies.

But while Dixon loves to set the bad example, if you look up the word “hypocrisy” in the venerable Oxford Dictionary, you’ll see Tish Powell’s picture right next to it.

While Dixon manages to pay some lip service to the EPD’s basic merit, Powell makes no such pretense. As long as whatever she’s been thinking in the last five minutes plays to her pious posse, it will inevitably exist her mouth unfiltered.

And that’s a particularly egregious propensity when you consider that Powell oughtta show some modicum of gratitude to a department that went out of their way to help her family out of what could’ve been a tough legal jam. It’s one that could’ve seriously damaged her political aspirations and reputation, too.

But unlike Powell, who revels in dragging her adversaries’ and their family’s names through the mud, I will avoid divulging the specific details of that case. But I do want to be abundantly clear that none of the involved sources came from within the Elgin Police Department.

In fact, when I confirmed the story with a second source and took it to my regular EPD friends, they wouldn’t say a word about it. Considering their rising animosity for the councilwoman, that’s an real journalistic rarity. So much for gratitude, right?

Now that we’ve covered these generally useless reforms and the political motivation behind them, on Friday well discuss the kind of everyday police reform that would make a real difference in minority lives.

Until then!