“No good deed goes unpunished.” The statement started as a way of saying that doing a little good would lead people to expect you to do a lot. Now a Chicago police sergeant is learning it means he shouldn’t have done anything to begin with, because he’s facing actual punishment for helping three little girls and the grandma who is raising them.
In Chicago, you might expect that the cops would try to find any way they can to repair broken relationships with communities, after a long history of corruption, brutality, and a failure to prosecute their own for illegal acts. When the public finally saw the videotaped shooting of Laquan McDonald, only a civil rights investigation could begin to cover the damage done by their lousy training, racial profiling, and excessive violence.
Even so, it was not a desire for recognition that led Sergeant Charles Artz to start a GoFundMe campaign for Delores Anderson and her granddaughters.
When Artz first arrived at the abandoned South Side apartment where one of his officers had been called for a welfare check, the three girls, then ages 7, 2, and 1, were all alone and surrounded by filth. The signs of abuse were clear to the police, and they came to learn that the oldest had never even been to a school. They tracked down the girls’ grandma, who immediately agreed to take them in, despite having very little herself. Off-duty, Artz and his team decided to take the family under their wing, giving them essentials like food and diapers, and even providing a Christmas celebration for them.
Now the city’s Internal Affairs bureau has lodged a complaint against Artz, claiming that he violated a department rule about soliciting donations since the fundraiser campaign was linked to one of the officers’ own bank accounts — the family had no means to open an account of their own. And even if Artz is cleared of any wrongdoing, he will always have the IAB complaint on his record.
Can we all just agree to let these cops do something good? The job of being a police officer requires people who may otherwise be great folks to enforce arbitrary and often racist laws. Even cops who aren’t on a power trip, like many are, still have an official duty to uphold misguided laws that result in lopsided sentences and ruined lives. When they’re off duty, if they want to do something good, why stop them?