Almost missed during the sound and fury of the politically-charged Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings last week was a bit of news that during ordinary times may not have been ignored. In Chicago, for the first time in more than 50 years, a police officer was convicted of murder for an on-duty shooting incident. A Cook County jury found Jason Van Dyke guilty of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm in the death of a black Chicago teenager, Laquan McDonald.

The McDonald case was mishandled from the outset. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been accused of postponing release of the video of the incident for political purposes. The outrage over the Democrat’s craven political maneuverings was palpable. The police superintendent was fired by Emanuel in wake of video’s release. Police have been accused of lying and participating in a cover-up. The mayor has wisely elected not to run for another term.

But last Friday, as anti-Kavanaugh protesters interrupted Senate proceedings, accosted its GOP members on elevators, and even pounded on the fortified Supreme Court building doors with fists and placards, Chicago law enforcement braced in anticipation of expected violence ahead of a jury ruling that even reliable pundits predicated could go either way.

With Van Dyke’s conviction, an eerie calm overtook one of America’s most violent urban hubs. Those geared up to protest a “racist” and “unjust” system of “oppression” meekly dispersed, their cause methodically unraveling with each “guilty” determination crisply uttered by the jury foreman.

Though it may be considered monumentally unfair to pronounce judgment from the sidelines, without having witnessed the entire trial and examined the evidence up close, the jury got this one right.

That is always a difficult thing for a former law enforcement professional to admit.

As a former member of “the thin blue line,” what the Oxford Dictionary defines as “those who separate order from chaos,” I understand the complexities involved in policing. We demand our armed public servants serve during periods of austerity budgets, while confronting dangerous situations that often demand split-second, life-or-death decision-making in real time, and are parsed, after the fact, by those with terminal degrees in psychology and sociology. When cops get it wrong, the results are scrutinized with 20/20 hindsight and slow-motion videotape technology. Police are no longer afforded the benefit of the doubt, and presumption of innocence and due process — as we witnessed during the Kavanaugh inquisition — no longer apply in cases where police officers are involved in the shootings of minorities.

The facts have never supported the trope that is “racist, white cops slaughtering unarmed young African-American males for sport.” The Washington Post reports that in 2017, of 63 unarmed people shot and killed by police, 30 were white and 20 were black. And arguments of “population percentages” and “proportionality” can be easily addressed when placed in context of “patterns of criminality” by demographics.

But police do indeed make mistakes, and the public they serve can and should hold them accountable. And those of us who once were public safety practitioners, and now serve as media analysts of law enforcement actions, are often dismissed as “unapologetic shills” or “defenders of the indefensible.” And that is unfortunate.

Yes, there are some former law enforcement professionals who view their new roles as partisan activists. There are others who can’t seem to find a way forward to ever utter a critical word about the fallible human beings who don the uniform. As a retired FBI agent, I have witnessed some former colleagues dismiss obvious wrongdoing by FBI headquarters officials because, well, it would harm the #Resistance.

But it's hard to categorize me as an apologist. While I have written many a supportive column defending law enforcement actions when appropriate, I have also been deservedly critical of abhorrent behavior and inexcusable conduct. When former North Charleston, S.C., police officer Michael Slager slaughtered a fleeing Walter Scott and received 20 years for the crime, I argued that the sentence should have been stiffer, in a Newsweek piece titled, “This murderous cop should be serving a life sentence.”

And in CNN Opinion, I have called out the historical racism in instances of law enforcement being used as armed instruments of the state to maintain segregation or enforce Jim Crow laws, in a piece titled “The conversation we need on police shootings.” And when police overstep their authority to employ deadly force, I have vocally denounced them, as in a piece headlined “Daniel Shaver’s shooting by police officer was an avoidable execution.”

Let’s acknowledge that police have a damn tough job. Let’s also note that the “grievance industry” charlatans and racial arsonists are cynical opportunists and their smearing of the vast majority of honest and decent law enforcement professionals is shameful. Cops are paid a pittance to run toward the sounds of the guns and to protect us from the many forms of evil that have metastasized in the 21st century. With this in mind, it renders criticisms of officer mistakes such a difficult and unpalatable assignment.

But in the Chicago case, unpleasant though it may feel, criticism of Jason Van Dyke is warranted and necessary. The standard that applies in cases like this is typically found in the 1989 Supreme Court decision Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386. And under this “objective reasonableness” standard is how we must view Van Dyke’s actions. Did the officer apply the constitutionally appropriate levels of force unique to the circumstances inherent in the Laquan McDonald case?

A jury of Van Dyke’s peers said “no.”

Folks like me have to acknowledge this publicly. We must respect the officer’s right to appeal the ruling, and we can empathize with the pain his family and colleagues are enduring with this decision. But we absolutely must be stolid and fair in our assessments of the case. The legality of Van Dyke’s use of force decision in the McDonald case was reviewed by 12 arbiters of the cop’s fate. They unanimously decided that the police officer erred in his decision. They brought justice for the McDonald family. And with that, they unlit the fuse that was to be Chicago’s response to an anticipated miscarriage of justice.

Alexander Hamilton once said that the first duty of society is justice.

The Chicago jury did its duty. I’m now doing mine.

James A. Gagliano (@JamesAGagliano) worked in the FBI for 25 years. He is a law enforcement analyst for CNN and an adjunct assistant professor in homeland security and criminal justice at St. John's University.