Thursday, February 18, 2010

Good Luck Today, Bill Cozzi

Today is the 3-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals review of William Cozzi Jr.'s incarceration.
The expert but partisan blog on this subject is Second City Cop. The comment section of this post from another blog also gives an explanation and a range of civilian reactions.

The Incident
Bill Cozzi was a member of the Chicago Police Department. He was filmed hitting a prisoner in a hospital wheelchair, somebody who had apparently been antagonistic to him verbally and was restrained physically. Video from a hospital security camera shows him walking away from the wheelchair, an expression on his face that shows his last nerve was suddenly reached, and his response. It shows nothing about what came before. Neither does it include sound. Only the violence is unmistakable.

 I also wonder what had happened before. This video is not the full story.

The Punishment
Bill Cozzi was reviewed and disciplined for that action, upfront about it, showed remorse for it, and served out an 18-month probation given him by state court (and duty suspension). From what I have read in the media, it should always be this upfront. Instead, it has been a lesson that honesty is not the best policy.

He was due to return to work when the new Superintendent of Police asked that it he be indicted again, this time as a Federal offense. He was sentenced to 40 months and incarcerated twice as far away from home than Federal regulations normally consider appropriate placement. This means that unlike many prisoners, Bill Cozzi gets few visits from his family and friends, who are very far away. As a police officer in a prison, his position is extra dangerous.

Management Issues
Like some of SSC's commenters, I believe the incident was wrong. I also have a management opinion, which I feel more confident about. Bill Cozzi's incarceration has been a major management mistake of the Supt. Jody Weis, decimating morale. He went outside customary procedure, dissing not just Cozzi but his own agency's review process. What could have been done quietly was done in public without advance warning and untempered by any mercy whatsoever. Whatever good Weis has tried to do with reorganization and new equipment has dissolved in the acid of resentment to his uncustomary, unprecedented, and never repeated disciplinary treatment.

So it's also my belief Bill Cozzi was screwed. The reparations he tried to make were used against him. Today I wish him the very best.

I believe it will help his loyal friends in the CPD believe in the process of law and order that they are sworn to defend.

--Free Bill Cozzi--


Slamdunk said...

I was not aware of that story, and I agree it is always necessary to understand the before and after rather than judge an incident simply on a short clip.

Thanks for talking about it.

Ann T. said...

Dear Slamdunk,
It's also my understanding he had a sterling record before this incident. That he'd had a recent death in his family. Etc. Things that frequently are taken into account in courtrooms across the nation.

It's always hard for me to comment on police affairs, not having walked in those shoes, but this just seems over the top.

Maybe the court of appeals will see that too. I certainly hope so.

Thanks for writing in,
Ann T.

Edith Bunker said...

It's disturbing to see the morale of the police continue to decline. They mayor frequently uses them as scapegoats,
and there is absolutely no love between the officers and the commissioner; they HATE that guy.
It's bad when the cops are crabby.
Thank you for the summary & links!

Ann T. said...

Dear Mrs. Bunker,
Thank you for confirming independently the sense I have gotten from reading about Chicago and the police department.

This distance-learning can only go so far.

I listened to the tape of the judicial proceedings and think it went well for Mr. Cozzi. However, we won't know the outcome for 2-4 weeks.

Thank you very much,
Ann T.

Bob G. said...

Not knowing all the history of the incident, my "gut" would tell me this is a case of a skewed type of justice atempting to run slipshod over someone that has "done his time" as it were.

If this were HONEST JUSTICE, this would not be pursued with the verve we're seeing. It would be over and done with.

Someone else has some axe to grind, it would appear.

Intersting story.
Hope Cozzi gets HIS justice in the matter.

Ann T. said...

Dear Bob G.,
Of course I don't know the whole history either, but it looks like a railroad job to me.

The appeal arguments were very interesting and tended to reinforce my impression.

So, I hope he gets justice too.

Thanks for listening.
Ann T.