Chicago police chief: Conduct in video ‘not professional’

March 25, 2011

by Sam Hudzik, Chip Mitchell and Samuel Vega |

(WBEZ/Sam Hudzik)

The head of the Chicago police said Friday that it is always inappropriate for officers to use "scared straight" tactics. This came after WBEZ obtained a video that shows officers allowing bystanders to taunt a young man sitting in their vehicle.

Interim Supt.Terry Hillard said that the officers shown in the video have been put on desk duty and that an internal investigation is proceeding as fast as possible.

Hillard, who returned from retirement this month, called the incident in the Humboldt Park neighborhood "not professional."

"It's not what I remember — my first time around or this time around — what the Chicago Police Department stands for," Hillard told reporters.

The head of internal affairs, Juan Rivera, said he is not sure yet if the young man shown on the video was under arrest at the time. Rivera said the police who appear in the video are "veteran officers."

Hillard said, in general, if officers make an unintentional mistake, it is the department's job to help them improve their performance. But he added, "If they get out there and do inappropriate or unprofessional [things], going against our general orders, or [do] things that we perceive as being unprofessional, inappropriate, we're going to go after them. Simple as that."

Meanwhile, residents of the block who saw the incident said it occurred this past Saturday, March 19. They told WBEZ that two officers arrived on the block with the young man in a police SUV and that no other officers or police vehicles were present. After about 5 minutes, the residents said, the officers drove the young man away. About 10 minutes later, according to witnesses, the officers returned without the young man and spoke again with some of the onlookers. The witnesses asked to remain unidentified.

Police sources have told WBEZ that the two cops were patrol officers assigned to the department’s Shakespeare District.