Jim Glennon recently decided to take a shot, so to speak, at Radley Balko, who is pressing for the demilitarization of police forces throughout the nation. First, a little history about Jim. Jim worked for 29 years for the Lombard, Illinois, police department, retiring as a lieutenant. He’s a third generation police officer. He apparently was good at his job, commanding both the patrol and investigations at different times, and being selected in 1998 as the first commander of the Du Page County Major Crimes Task Force. That doesn’t mean that everything was wine and roses.
I hesitated before I decided to address the following issues, because it was long ago, but it did shape the man that Mr. Glennon is now. First, on August 15, 1980, police officers were watching Steven Hamrick and thought that he was selling illegal pills, so after discussing it among themselves for over two-hours, they forcibly entered his home without announcing themselves or with a warrant. Hamrick was “accidentally” shot in the back of the head by a Sergeant Lewis of Villa Park PD as he was trying to flush the pills down the toilet. Hamrick v. Lewis (Hamrick I), 515 F. Supp. 983 (N.D. Ill. 1981); Hamrick v. Lewis (Hamrick II), 539 F. Supp. 1166 (N.D. Ill. 1982); Jerry Crimmins, Cops had no warrant in suburb killing, CHI. TRIB., Aug. 19, 1980, at 4. A witness, James Pedtke, saw a police officer kick the door of the bathroom open, step back, and then fire. Joseph Sjostorm, Suburban killing by cop is probed, CHI. TRIB., Aug. 18, 1980, at 12. Glennon was not inside the house and was subsequently dropped from the lawsuit, but he was present for the event, including the illegal entry of the home. Hamrick II.
Second, years later, now Sergeant Glennon, was involved in another lawsuit, by a fired female officer who claimed that she was sexually harassed and then retaliated for reporting it. In 1994, Officer Megan Murray complained about her treatment at the police department. Some of the harassment was allegedly from Glennon, and Murray claimed that it included showing adult movies at the police station, sending her on more calls than others, and providing insufficient back up which caused her to be seriously injured. Murray v. Lichter (Murray I), No. 95 C 1921, 1995 WL 631794 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 24, 1995); Murray v. Kutzke (Murray II), 967 F. Supp. 337 (N.D. Ill. 1997); Female officer charges harassment, CHI. TRIB., July 23, 1994. An internal investigation by the Lombard Village Attorney found no wrong-doing, G.J. Zemaitis, Probe clears cops of sex harassment, CHI. TRIB., Sept. 29, 1994, and Murray was fired three months later, Laura Gatland, Lombard police brass exonerated in lawsuit: Fired officer claims sex discrimination, CHI. TRIB., Dec. 12, 1997 (Gatland, Exonerated). During the course of the lawsuit, Glennon admitted that he said he hated Murray’s guts, that he had been previously disciplined for making sexually suggestive comments over the public address system, and stated that Murray had problems just writing police reports. Laura Gatland, Ex-supervisor testifies in cop harassment trial, CHI. TRIB., Nov. 21, 1997. Glennon and the village won the lawsuit, but the jury read a statement that: “”Although we found the defendants not guilty, we do feel the behavior and conduct of the Lombard Police Department was insensitive and failed to meet the needs of all officers. . .” Gatland, Exonerated. The next year, now a lieutenant, Glennon was put in charge of a brand new DuPage County Major Crimes Task Force. Art Barnum, Top cops teaming up to tackle big crimes, CHI. TRIB., Dec. 31, 1998.
Glennon left the department later and today is the owner of the Calibre Press Street Survival Seminar. This is a good training program and has done great things in keeping officers alive. These seminars come from a trio of books written by Charles Remsberg and which I wrote about here. Well now Glennon has to make his living out of training cops how to survive and you have to sell the training to your audience. Glennon’s been there, having been involved in an officer-involved shooting and he’s also learned what is necessary to survive in court. So he can sell to the individual officers who are typically the ones that attend these seminars (the departments are too cheap).
Anyway, back to the subject of the post–Glennon is basically telling Balko to STFU, that only cops, only those who have been there, should comment on the danger of being an officer.
OK. Let’s go there.
Glennon rants that Balko is claiming “only” 118 officers died in 2014. Well, I don’t have data for 2014, but I do have data for 2004-2013. In 2013, 103* officers lost their lives while on duty, and that is 103 more than is acceptable to me. I don’t want to see a single one die. But when you start looking at the break-down, it changes again. Of the 103, only 43 were from criminal assault or from chasing a criminal. Of the other 60, it involved stuff as mundane as falling off of a ladder in the property room, to a heart attack during training. Glennon complains that Balko’s complaints are not reality based.
What possible justification is there to send a SWAT team to check for underage drinking, Mr. Glennon? That’s happened. Or to raid a penny-ante poker game at a Dallas VFW hall? That’s happened too. Or to send a population 3,000-town’s new MRAP armored vehicle with 24 officers to collect a civil judgment from a 75-year old man? Ditto. Are you really trying to defend that?
Are you aware that during the same period, there were 461 citizens justifiably killed by law enforcement? Justifiable Homicide: Expanded Homicide Data Table 14, FBI (last visited Jan. 9, 2015) (.xls). That doesn’t cover those who were questionable, but ‘no billed’ like the Eric Garner case. Another database that is only 51% complete for 2013 shows 551 citizens were shot by police, many are listed as unarmed. See We’re compiling every police-involved shooting in America, Deadspin.com (Aug. 20, 2014). Did you know that from 1974 to 2014, not one single Dallas, Texas Police officer was indicted for shooting a citizen, and that in April 2014 not one, but TWO Dallas officers were indicted for two separate shooting incidents? See Tristan Hallman, Grand jury votes to indict former Dallas officer in shooting of Rylie man, Dallasnews.com (Apr. 29, 2014). Were you aware that the only reason that the innocent citizens were cleared and the officers indicted was due to video of the events? That police had filed charges on the people that they had shot with no justification? Would it surprise you that both were black?
Mr. Glennon, you can whine and throw your little temper tantrum all you want, but instead of bashing those who are calling for a solution, you should join in and help. You need to teach officers that while the officers have a right to go home alive, so do citizens. You should be encouraging the training of SWAT teams to the national standards put out by the National Tactical Officers Association, because you should know, as I do, that most small agencies do not train enough to have a SWAT team.
Look this isn’t difficult, and people with no police experience can see it as well as we can. It’s time that you remember that police are under civilian control, and that if we don’t police ourselves, reining in the excesses, at some point the people will. Make sure that you are on the right side.
*I’m not counting the federal officer who was killed by a bomb in Afghanistan or the K9 who was killed in a fall. See Officer Down Memorial Page, ODMP.org (last visited Jan. 9, 2015).
**H/T: Simple Justice