Here’s why Chicago’s unofficial police blog ‘Second City Cop’ went dark

WGN Investigates

CHICAGO — Most Chicago cops don’t talk to reporters.  They don’t trust politicians.  And they certainly have a lot of opinions. 

It’s why for the past 15 years the “Second City Cop” police blog has been must-read for many Chicagoans who want to have a better understanding about crime and justice in their city. 

It’s also why the blog has bene a thorn in the side of police brass for years and there have been various attempts to identify the operator. 

When the chronicle of cop life disappeared from public view on the internet a few days ago some took to social media concerned that “big tech” had pulled the plug. 

“We have taken no action,” a spokesperson for Google, which owns the Blogspot platform used by Second City Cop told WGN.  “We see that the blog is still live though the readership access is ‘private.’”

A screengrab of the “Second City Cop” blog shows what it looked like before it was set to private

What’s the real story? It’s been difficult to track down since the operator(s) of the blog have taken great lengths to protect their anonymity.

However, in an email to WGN the person behind the blog makes it sound like he/she was concerned they were about to be outed. 

“Over the weekend, we received information from a contact at Google that internal chat/e-mails led them to believe that certain precautions we had taken over the years had been breached by Google,” they said.

Second City Cop certainly has opinions. Police bosses are bungling. Reporters don’t get it. City Hall is scheming. And don’t get them started on aldermen (referred to on the blog as “aldercreatures”).

The public comments to articles posted on the blog can be politically incorrect at best – and sometimes offensive.

But Second City Cop has provided unparalleled insight into the opinions of the rank and file. Over 15 years, its operator says there have been more than 22,000 posts, nearly two million comments and “God knows how many attempts to silence us.”

Google denies attempting to interfere with the blog; but the person behind the site points to how technology companies have silenced President Trump on Twitter and made Parler harder to find as evidence of a crackdown on conservative voices. 

“The blacklisting has begun, even if you won’t see it, you should” Second City Cop tells WGN via email. “The wholesale abandonment of the President, the denunciations, the, ‘I wasn’t really with him’ self-serving statements. Sound familiar? It should…if you have any recollections of the show trials behind the Iron Curtain, in Southeast Asia, in assorted Middle East kleptocracies.”

The header of the blog states it’s “sarcasm and silliness from a Windy City cop” but the truth is it’s been much more:  A venting platform for fed-up officers as well as a place where they can make off-color comments shielded by the anonymity of a keyboard.

It’s also frequently the first place Chicago journalists have been tipped to trouble brewing inside the Chicago police department. There’s no better evidence of the blog’s significance than the first “thank you” Second City Cop offered in a farewell email.  It was to former Chicago police Superintendent Phil Cline. 

“Without you banning us from department computers, we wouldn’t have jumped from 3,000 visits a day to over 30,000 unique daily visits,” the blogger wrote about Cline.  “You, more than anyone, assisted our success.”

Is this the end for Second City Cop? “We don’t know,” the blogger wrote. “We don’t know if this is it, we don’t know if we’ll return. We don’t know what Big Tech has in store for us and the political winds are not fortuitous. We are exploring options and we’ll leave it at that.”

So, at least for now, you can mark Second City Cop as “19-Paul.”

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