BY TONY BOUZA
The awful, awful thing about bureaucracy is its cold indifference. Many of my colleagues sought comfort, salaries and pensions while wallowing in self-pity and whining like gold medalists. Humanity was the great missing thing.
Shortly before I left policing—for the first time voluntarily—we had an awful murder—Cindy Gerdes.
A beautiful young woman most foully and cruelly slain by what was very likely a sex fiend (not a construction in wide use these days).
Just as I’d done with the first Son of Sam killings in the Bronx, in the early ’70s, I had the detectives come in to see me, every week, to discuss progress. These importunities were a great pain in the ass to the sleuths, but it pressured them to really delve.
Naturally, nothing came of the efforts, but those victims were not going to vanish into bureaucracy’s mists.
Ultimately, the Son of Sam was caught—but not before his depredations caused such a stir as to force the cops to work—and they did a great job of it. Mostly due to the power of the fourth estate.
Ms Gerdes was killed just as DNA evidence was coming into vogue and I pushed for its collection. The process was totally analogous to fingerprint evidence.
Unfortunately, Cindy Gerdes had no champions—press or family—clamoring for results. These interventions can matter.
My guess is that her killer has been collaterally arrested many times in the intervening decades—yet there is no evidence of any police interest.
This is a tragedy and an outrage.
I know I am a common scold—but why become a cop if you’re indifferent to justice? Doesn’t simple humanity require you to care? Is survival the only objective?
I wonder if we’ve lost our sense of outrage. This is where the bureaucracy fails. If it can remain indifferent to the tragedy Cindy Gerdes represents, why does it exist?
Policing’s mission is noble—to serve humanity. What human effort can aspire to such lofty ideals? The Gerdes case illustrates how far they’ve wandered. We consistently forget that racism—like Nazi-ism—twists, corrupts and infects its practitioners.
Am I crazy?
I’m sure I’ll be dismissed as a crank, but the spirit of Cindy Gerdes hovers over the Minneapolis Police Department demanding justice. Indifference confirms the critics and dismays the supporters.
Left unaddressed, the searing murder of Cindy Gerdes stands as a damning indictment of our indifference to our neighbor’s plight.
Think of the great empires—their demise was usually triggered by an inner collapse—the hedonism, religiosity, corruption. Good, healthy civilizations discuss, debate, vote.
From one crime know a nation.