Officer Ella French donned the Chicago Police Department’s insignia, but it didn’t protect her.

Officer Ella French of the Chicago Police Department is seen in an undated photo taken on Twitter with everything that should have kept her safe on Saturday night.

She is protected by a safety vest. She has a police radio in her outfit so she can summon assistance. Her gun is slung around her waist.

Most crucially, Officer French is wearing the Chicago Police Department’s logo on her left sleeve, which should have been sufficient. That should have been the only armor she needed in a better world—a better city. It was supposed to keep her safe, but it didn’t.

Officer French was shot and died at around 9 p.m. in the West Englewood district of Chicago’s South Side. On Saturday, during what appeared to be a normal traffic stop. Another officer was also shot. As we write this, he is struggling for his life in a hospital intensive care unit.

This city should be ashamed of itself in so many ways.

Every weekend, Chicago erupts into a frenzy of activity. This past weekend, more than 60 people were shot. And now the city can’t even argue that the police personnel it sends onto the streets to combat the violence are sufficiently protected. According to Police Supt. David Brown, 38 cops have been shot this year, and 11 have been struck by gunfire.

Let’s be clear: no one is safe when the police are not respected, when the authority of their uniform and badge is no longer valid. We may either remain a city with police while supporting police reforms, or we can become a city without police.

In the next few days, we’ll discover more about Officer French.

She was only 29 years old at the time.

We’ll also hear more about the traffic stop near 63rd Street and Bell Avenue that resulted in Officer French’s death and the other officer’s critical injury. There is a video from a body cam. We strongly urge the city to make the footage available as soon as legally possible.

Who were the three people arrested in the car? What were they up to, anyway? So, what precisely happened?

And, perhaps most importantly, what might our criminal justice system have done to protect us from the folks in that car prior to that horrific night?

The flags of Chicago have been lowered to half-staff once more. As funeral hearses pass by, men and women in blue will line the streets once more, standing at attention and saluting.

Will we all stand with them, in person and in spirit, in every neighborhood?

We could have done better.

On Sunday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot was asked if the recent spike in police officer shootings was tied, in some way, to Chicago’s ongoing efforts at police reform. There has been a lot of criticism of the department, as well as a lot of protective backlash.

“Stop,” Lightfoot said, and he was absolutely correct. Simply put, stop it, “the mayor added. Yes, Chicago must “continue the journey” toward more “constitutional, accountable police,” but “the police are not our enemies.” On the contrary, they risk and offer their lives for us “every day.”

Every single day.


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