Ella French died last weekend performing one of her profession's most dangerous duties, a traffic stop, after a passenger opened fire. Her partner, whose name was not released, was severely wounded.
To explain what happened next, and why it's so hurtful, Law Enforcement New Network spokesman Randy Sutton says police have many deeply meaningful rituals they perform in the course of their work. That includes the close-knit family of police officers in the Windy City whose traditions go back generations.
“Honoring our dead, our fallen, is the most emotional thing that can happen in a police department,” he explains. “And there are rituals that go along with that including providing an escort from the hospital to the morgue.”
But the CPD’s second-in-command, Eric Carter, disrespected that tradition by refusing to wait for the bagpipe brigade provided by the Emerald Society. Instead, he ordered the ambulance carrying French's body to depart the hospital and take her to the morgue.
“We don’t have 20 minutes for this [expletive],” Carter said, a comment that enraged the rank-and-file officers, including the city's Irish cops whose pipes-and-drums tradition is sacred.
Lori Lightfoot, the city’s controversial mayor, backed Carter’s decision and caused even more anger after likening the bag pipes tradition to a group that wanted to “hijack the procession.”
“When it comes down to her level of competence, she is blunderingly incompetent,” Sutton says of the mayor. “She has demonstrated her disdain for law enforcement during her entire tenure. So nothing surprises me from her.”
Lightfoot had already witnessed how Chicago’s police officers feel about her: When she visited the hospital where the wounded partner was fighting for his life, the officers standing vigil turned their backs on her.