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March This Wednesday to Help Us Put More Cops on Chicago's Streets

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Be honest. Did you even bat an eye when you read this weekend's headlines? Cubs lose to the Brewers by thirteen runs. Bears eke out an ugly win against the lowly Lions. And another uniformed Chicago cop gets shot in broad daylight.

If these stories didn't faze you, it's probably because you've read too many similar tales over the years. It's also likely that you don't think there's a damn thing you can do to change any of these situations. As for the Cubs and the Bears, I'd have to agree with you -- unless, of course, your name is McCaskey or Ricketts. But make no mistake -- you can help to make life less dangerous for our Chicago cops (and, in turn, for each of us) simply by heading over to City Hall this Wednesday morning at 10:00 a.m.

I wrote recently for the Huffington Post about Lieutenant John R. Andrews, a 25-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department. Andrews had the courage to post on his personal blog a thoughtful essay about the problems he and his fellow officers confront on a daily basis. CPD brass honored Andrews' courage by making him the subject of an internal affairs investigation -- even though his long career has been unblemished by disciplinary problems. At the end of my piece, I wrote: "I'll do my best to have [Andrews'] back on this one, and I hope you will, too. He's probably going to need our help." I meant what I said.

A couple of weeks ago, the board of directors of Chicago's Fraternal Order of Police voted to stage a September 15 march to call attention to CPD's "dangerously low manpower." Our streets are short thousands of cops, and that's no secret to the gang-bangers shooting it out across the city. (The Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky recently explained how the city has failed to replace retiring officers, choosing instead to spend money earmarked for salaries on other departmental needs.)

This week's police march is a good idea. Unfortunately -- for reasons unknown both to me and to a whole host of rank-and-file cops -- FOP leadership decided to stage the march outside of CPD headquarters at 3510 S. Michigan Avenue. Nothing like hiding one's light under a bushel.

Andrews, however, has asked for our help. While appearing on a local radio show in early September, he asked that concerned Chicagoans stage a companion march at City Hall this Wednesday while the police are marching at headquarters. His rationale smacked of something this city rarely enjoys: participatory democracy. It's your city; let your voice be heard. And from what I hear, a fair number of cops plan to join the City Hall march.

Maybe your ward isn't currently plagued by the level of gang violence that has claimed many of our city's neighborhoods, so you feel like this is someone else's problem. Maybe you don't know any Chicago cops, so you haven't had a chance to hear what they've been dealing with -- both on the street and within the department -- during the last few years. In either case, ignore their plight at your own peril. As Eddie Burke -- the 18th Century philosopher, not the 14th Ward alderman -- once said: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

Join us outside of City Hall this Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. Take an early lunch that day. Let our lame duck mayor know that he can't leave office with a police force that's short thousands of cops. And if Daley chooses not to listen, your presence at City Hall will still send a strong message to those folks seeking to replace him next year.

Andrews and his CPD colleagues need our support before the increasingly fashionable run-and-shoot offense claims the life of another cop. I hope to see you this Wednesday.