Update January 12, 11:07PM — The operators of Second City Cop tonight confirmed that they independently made the decision to cease publication. Story here.
A long-running blog about Chicago policing is no longer visible to the public, and many people want to know what’s going on. We know this is true because our inboxes started filling with questions about Second City Cop’s status when their site became restricted Sunday.
You can take this fact to the bank: We have absolutely no idea what’s going on. None. Zilch. But that’s not going to stop us from posting a 618 word article rife with speculation.
SCC, as it’s sometimes called, has been a daily must-read for anyone who reports on police and crime issues in Chicago or who has an interest in reading about policing — warts and all —from the perspective of authors who claimed to be current and former Chicago police officers.
Let’s start with what probably did not happen.
We can speculate with a fair amount of confidence that the site has not been removed from the internet by Google, the company that hosts and operates the blogging platform SCC uses.
As of Sunday evening, visitors to SCC who are logged into a Google account began receiving the following message: “This blog is open to invited readers only.” That apparently means the blog still exists, but the general public doesn’t have permission to see it. (Visitors who are not logged into a Google account are asked to sign in. Once they do, they see the “invite” message.)
CWB once used the same Google-based platform. Switching a publicly-visible blog to “invited readers only” takes exactly two clicks. Blog operators can also restrict their site so that only its authors have access, but that’s not the option being used at SCC.
So, what did happen? Did we mention that we have absolutely no idea? The possibilities range from innocuous to whatever the opposite of innocuous is.
Most basically, somebody might have screwed up, clicked the wrong settings option, and sent their whole site private.
If that’s not it, we turn to the assumption that the site operators intentionally made their content “invite only.”
Why? Couldn’t tell ya.
Starting at the low end of the Wild Speculation Spectrum: maybe they got tired of writing. The author(s) have been posting for 15 years without any known source of compensation whatsoever. There are no ads or subscriptions. They’re not even getting beer money out of it. In recent years at least, only one or two days have passed with no new content.
And they actually moderate hundreds of internet comments every day. Can you imagine the toll that takes on the human brain? We can. We used to have a comments section.
Maybe they’re burnt out.
Then, there’s this: SCC has mentioned that their site might go away. Those references have been tied to the authors’ concerns about changing political tides, censorship, and complaints people filed with Google about their content.
In September, the bloggers wrote that they “have received a number of warnings from Blogger and had a couple of posts taken down from earlier this summer due to a concerted effort by the [Chicago Teacher’s Union] for merely pointing out what their members have posted on their social media accounts.”
“We’re expecting more of the same after this weekend, so we’re warning the readers that it is very possible…you will wake up one day and find the blog severely curtailed…or missing entirely.”
But if Google wanted SCC to go away, the site would almost certainly be gone — completely gone — not just limited to invited parties.
The list of possible reasons for the site’s conversion to invite-only status is quite long. And we’ll have to wait and see if the authors ever decide to let their readers know what the real reason is.