Monday, March 28, 2011

Who is Hiram Grau and why does he make me nervous?

First things first: Hiram Grau has just been appointed to be the Director of the Illinois State Police.

Now, why would that make me nervous?

Well, the Illinois State Police (ISP) have an uneven history with Illinois gun owners. My memories of the ISP only go back to the days when Terry Gainer was the Director, and Gainer's signature was on the deceptive little countertop signs that were mailed to my dad's gun shop. These were supposed to be set out on the counters to warn customers that their firearms had to be transported in locked cases in inaccessible compartments (such as the trunk of a car) but with the ammunition transported in a separate compartment of the car. That was folk wisdom for years, but it wasn't the law even back then as far as I've been able to tell. In addition, the ISP has traditionally opposed all gun-rights legislation and favored most gun control in the legislature, and their page of advice to women on "What To Do If You Are Confronted" is legendary for such great advice as "It may sound disgusting, but putting your fingers into you throat and making yourself vomit usually gets results (This method is not often used except as a last resort)" and "there is documentation of assailants that left a would-be-victim alone after she told him that she was pregnant and it would kill her baby. (Some case were women that were too old to even have a baby.)"

Over three years ago, I wrote here about my surprise that the ISP hadn't taken the page down or altered it after a year of being mocked by activists with tongue depressors . . . .

Then, over a year later, I posted an open letter to the ISP at the Chicago Gun Rights Examiner, explaining my continued surprise that the ISP still had not taken action to remove the page . . .

Three months after that, the ISP responded with promises of a comprehensive review of the entire ISP website . . . .

That was well over a year ago, and as of today, the offensive page of dangerous advice is still there.

There have been hopeful signs, though. Under the much-mocked young Director Jonathon Monken, the ISP dedicated more manpower to processing FOID applications and began to cut down its backlog. Much more promising, the ISP went from persistent hostility toward gun rights to standing neutral on the latest shall-issue right-to-carry bill . . . and combined with the Illinois Sheriffs Association, Illinois Chiefs of Police and Chicago PD Sargeants Association testifying in favor, that's a big boost.

Now, though, Mr. Grau's administration is poised to begin. Grau is an unknown quantity to me, but he's been in charge of investigations for Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez for years, and I hope he doesn't share her hopes for radical gun bans. Time will tell. In the meantime, the rumors that Grau will be expected to make ISP "outside investigations" of law enforcement in Cook County go the way Alvarez wants them to go--starting with the current case in which one of Mayor Daley's nephews hit another young man who later died of the injuries he sustained in falling to the ground, and was later declared innocent by Chicago PD--are all over the Second City Cop blog. And as one particularly cheerful and optimistic Chicago cop put it:
"Apologies to our brothers and sisters at ISP. As you were with Gainer, you again have been saddled with CPD refuse . . . Grau is a Democratic Party clout baby, plain and simple."
Well, thanks. But I'm still hoping Mr. Grau will show me something to gladden my heart.

1 comment:

Hat Trick said...

Call me cynical but I'm not hoping for much from Grau. I've worked too long in state government.