Letter: Praising President Stelter for telling it like it is

November 3, 2019

I have been a proud member of the Illinois Chiefs of Police for many years, and have always considered it to be an extremely professional organization. The Illinois Chiefs was responsible for many improvements to law enforcement in the State of Illinois throughout my own 36-year career as a cop, for which I am grateful.

As proud as I have always been of my membership, I have never been more proud than when I read the October 2019 issue of Command magazine, and specifically the “From the President” column by our President, Chief Steven Stelter.

President Stelter, in his column, had the courage to “Tell it like it is," which is unfortunately a very rare thing to see nowadays. Rather than “sugar coat” some of the insanity that our (sic) elected officials attempt to jam down the throats of an often-willing public, President Stelter recognized just how destructive some of this rhetoric and some of these ideas truly are.

Some of his cited examples included a proposed Illinois law that would require an arresting officer to grant an arrestee three phone calls within their first hour in custody or face charges of a Class 4 felony. Considering the fact that most departments are so short-handed that the processing of an arrestee takes an Officer off the street for sometimes the entire shift, having such a requirement in place is truly ill-advised. Anyone who would recommend such a law has no idea what is entailed when making an arrest or processing a prisoner, and quite frankly I doubt if they care.

Eliminating legally obtained consent searches is another gem, as is making possession of heroin a misdemeanor. Having worked drug enforcement for a lot of my career and seeing the destruction and heartache that drugs have caused many families, this is truly interesting.

He also mentioned the disgusting fact that our Brother and Sister Cops in NYPD have had things thrown at them by the public, and apparently their municipal (sic) leadership doesn’t seem to care much about it. In fact, just this week there were large numbers of people jumping subway turnstiles while holding signs and shouting anti-police slogans.

Hundreds of protesters flooded the streets and the subways in Downtown Brooklyn this past Friday night, in response to a recent city initiative to increase police presence and surveillance. New York papers reported that a group of demonstrators later surrounded a nearby MTA bus and vandalized it with slogans such as “F---k NYPD” and “NYPD=KKK."

Protesters in a video shown on TV chanted “How do you spell racist? N-Y-P-D”. But the anti-cop chants heard in the video didn’t prevent a (sic) United States House of Representatives member from New York from lending her support to their actions.

I have watched with interest and sadness how the attitude of much of the public, fueled by the media and some elected officials, has deteriorated over the past ten years. It seems that ever since it was announced that the Cambridge Police “Acted Stupidly” (well before all the facts were out) that things really started going downhill.

The Ferguson, Missouri, situation, which was investigated as thoroughly as anything I’ve ever seen, and which ultimately determined that Officer Darren Wilson did nothing wrong when confronted with a strong-arm robber, even though he was described by the media as some type of a “Gentle Giant," a description with which the store owner he robbed would probably disagree.

Even though that was the finding, Officer Wilson’s life and career were ruined, and I seriously doubt if he and his family will ever be the same. The so-called “Ferguson Effect” has (understandably) impacted the actions of many, if not all, cops, when faced with almost any Use of Force situation.

The bottom line is this: I truly believe that we all owe a debt of gratitude to President Stelter for having the courage to publicly state what most, if not all of us, feel. He has done the Illinois Chiefs a great service with his article, and I for one truly appreciate it. President Stelter stated, “We the Police are the sanity in a sometimes insane world," and he is absolutely correct.

I have always believed that much of the time Law Enforcement professionals truly are the “Thin Blue Line” between order and chaos, and we should be proud to wear that title.

Please feel free to share this letter with the membership as you see fit.


Daniel S. McDevitt

Chief of Police, Lansing, IL (Retired)

Captain, Illinois State Police (Retired)