WBEZ | Police http://www.wbez.org/tags/police Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Campus police: real deal or rent-a-cops? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/campus-police-real-deal-or-rent-cops-111071 <p><p>Say you are driving around Chicago and you happen to run a red light. There are no Chicago police officers around, but there is a university police car right behind you. Could you still get a ticket?</p><p>That&rsquo;s exactly what Jef Johnson was wondering when he started noticing University of Chicago Police Department cars all over his Bronzeville neighborhood.</p><p>Here&rsquo;s the question Jef sent our way:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>Are police forces at local universities real police or simply security companies? How much policing power do they have?</em></p><p>We found a straightforward legal answer about how this works in Illinois. There is a spectrum of authority that ranges from security guard to all-out cop. At the far end of that spectrum are Jef&rsquo;s own University of Chicago police. He didn&rsquo;t know it at the time but UCPD is almost unique, with a particularly strong hand when it comes to power and jurisdiction. Those officers don&rsquo;t just protect students, staff and campus &mdash; the UCPD serves as the primary police force for 65,000 Chicagoans, and most are not affiliated with the university.</p><p>That prompted a question that should interest anyone, even those who never encounter these officers: How can a private police force get jurisdiction over so much of the public?</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Not your father&rsquo;s rent-a-cops</span></p><p>Let&rsquo;s start with that legal distinction we found. If you&rsquo;re anything like Jef, you probably assume that campus police officers aren&rsquo;t real police, and they have little authority other than the power to break up rowdy parties.</p><p>&ldquo;I always thought somehow that they were rent-a-cops,&rdquo; Jef said.</p><p>But that&rsquo;s not always the case, according Cora Beem, who manages mandated training for the<a href="http://www.ptb.state.il.us/aboutus.htm" target="_blank"> Illinois Law Enforcement Standards &amp; Training Board</a>. She said the big distinction to be made is between campus security guards and campus police. The latter undergo the same basic training and certification that state and municipal police officers do. With that certification, they have the same authority as any other police officer in the state, even if they are privately employed.</p><p>Illinois&rsquo; public universities employ campus police, but private universities can choose to hire plain old security guards. Those guards might be armed, but they don&rsquo;t have the power to give Jef Johnson a ticket, and they certainly cannot patrol off campus.</p><p>Like many private schools in Illinois, the University of Chicago voluntarily upgraded its security force to a police force 25 years ago. According to Beem, that means they are definitely not rent-a-cops.</p><p>&ldquo;They can write you a ticket. They can arrest you,&rdquo; Beem explained. &ldquo;They can counsel and release you, so yes, they&rsquo;re real cops.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">The UCPD&rsquo;s jurisdiction</span></p><p><iframe height="480" src="https://mapsengine.google.com/map/u/0/embed?mid=zD1cveoHRWh8.kfGTEakNbuXk" width="620"></iframe></p><p>With more than 100 full-time officers, the University of Chicago&rsquo;s police department is one of the largest private police forces anywhere. Not only that, UCPD also has a really big patrol area &mdash; they cover 6.5 square miles, most of which is beyond the core of the University of Chicago&#39;s South Side campus.</p><p>But why can UCPD officers patrol so far from campus in the mid-South Side? According to Craig Futterman, a clinical professor of law at University of Chicago Law School, the department&rsquo;s status is almost unique.</p><p>&ldquo;The deal is that there is a city ordinance in Chicago that grants the police superintendent the power to appoint special policemen for the city of Chicago,&rdquo; he explained.</p><p>This <a href="http://www.amlegal.com/nxt/gateway.dll/Illinois/chicago_il/title4businessesoccupationsandconsumerpr/chapter4-340specialpolicemenandsecurityg?f=templates$fn=default.htm$3.0$vid=amlegal:chicago_il$anc=JD_Ch.4-340" target="_blank">ordinance allows private police forces to assume the powers and responsibilities of municipal police</a>, not just on campus but in surrounding neighborhoods. UCPD is only one of two private forces in Chicago with this &ldquo;special police&rdquo; designation. The other force is that of Northwestern University Law School, but its <a href="http://directives.chicagopolice.org/attachments/S12-01_Att2.jpg" target="_blank">patrol area extends just a few blocks beyond its Streeterville campus </a>north of Chicago&rsquo;s Loop.</p><p>Once the ordinance was passed in 1992, UCPD negotiated its extended jurisdiction with Chicago&rsquo;s police superintendent. To the north, University of Chicago&rsquo;s main campus stops at 55th Street. UCPD&rsquo;s jurisdiction, however, extends all the way to 37th Street, even farther than Jef Johnson&rsquo;s home in Bronzeville.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/u%20of%20c%20charters.png" title="University of Chicago's Woodlawn Charter School, left, and Donoghue Charter School, right, are on the southern and northern ends of UCPD's extended jurisdiction. (Ellen Mayer/WBEZ) " /></div><p>Futterman says Chicago&#39;s police superintendent has granted UCPD more independence than it once had. In years&nbsp;past, university police needed administrative assistance to complete arrests.</p><p>&ldquo;The arrest, though, would be formalized and would be processed at a local chicago police department district station, usually whatever district the arrest was because UCPD operated in more than one Chicago police district,&rdquo; Futterman explained. Last year that changed. Now UCPD reports directly to the state and can process arrests independently. According to the university, this arrangement allows both departments to operate more efficiently.</p><p>Maintaining a large police force is expensive, but the university says its worth it. On this, an emailed statement from the UCPD reads: &ldquo;The extended patrol area enhances safety and security through the mid-South Side, which is home to a large number of University of Chicago faculty members, students and staff.&rdquo; The statement mentions the university&rsquo;s interest in protecting its charter schools and other properties within the extended patrol area.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">The community speaks</span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/meeting%20WEB.jpg" title="University of Chicago students and South Side residents held a forum October 29, 2014, at Hyde Park's Experimental Station to discuss UCPD's presence in their neighborhoods. (WBEZ/Ellen Mayer)" /></p><p>UCPD&rsquo;s jurisdiction doesn&rsquo;t just include university students and employees; again, the department protects approximately 65,000 residents. How do they feel about UCPD&rsquo;s presence in their neighborhoods?</p><p>On Wednesday, October 29, <a href="http://www.experimentalstation.org/" target="_blank">Hyde Park&rsquo;s Experimental Station</a> held a forum for students and South Side residents to discuss exactly that. Organizers also invited former UCPD chief Rudy Nimocks. He was at the helm when UCPD expanded its jurisdiction. As he recalls it, the university received community support as it broadened its jurisdiction.</p><p>&ldquo;We had public hearings,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;We were asked to come in. At each one of the sessions I said, &lsquo;We&rsquo;ll stay here as long as you want us.&rsquo; That&rsquo;s how it&rsquo;s been ever since.&rdquo;</p><p>Nimocks has a point. Almost every speaker at the community forum expressed gratitude that UCPD has made their neighborhoods safer. That being said, almost every speaker also had a story to tell about UCPD racially profiling black residents who live within the extended jurisdiction.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/triggs%20FOR%20WEB.jpg" style="float: left; height: 246px; width: 370px;" title="Jamel Triggs, who attended the recent forum on neighborhood UCPD presence, says he's been stopped by UCPD six times since returning from the Marine Corps in May. (Ellen Mayer/WBEZ)" />Jamel Triggs, a young black man who works at the Experimental Station&rsquo;s bike shop, said he had been stopped by UCPD six times since he returned from the Marine Corps in May. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re supposed to be protecting and serving us. That&rsquo;s supposed to be the goal,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around.&rdquo;</p><p>According to Triggs, the neighborhood doesn&rsquo;t feel safer if he has to worry about being stopped by UCPD. He said he is also concerned about the safety of the younger kids he mentors at the bike shop. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t want these kids walking around being scared of the police and being scared of the gangbangers out in the streets,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;because I was, and it hurts.&rdquo;</p><p>A student group called South Side Solidarity Network has launched a campaign to end perceived racial profiling by UCPD. The trouble is, all their evidence is anecdotal. To firm up accusations of wrongdoing, SSSN has asked UCPD to release records indicating the race of residents the department stops and searches. So far, the department has refused.</p><p>Another emailed statement responds to accusations of racial profiling. &ldquo;The University of Chicago Police Department does not deploy tactics that support racial profiling,&rdquo; it states. &ldquo;As a department, we often and openly discuss our policing strategies to ensure our officers are not engaging deliberately or inadvertently in bias-based policing.&rdquo;</p><p>Without releasing records and data, however, UCPD is asking the public to take them at their word.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Private police and public accountability</span></p><p>This is where Jef Johnson&rsquo;s curiosity about &nbsp;potential traffic stops in Bronzeville morphed into a much bigger question about the transparency and accountability of a private police force. The 1992 Chicago ordinance that allows for the creation of special police includes technical language about certificates and licensing fees, but it doesn&rsquo;t address the public&rsquo;s right to information when a private force takes on the responsibilities of municipal police. UCPD is not a governmental agency, therefore it is not required to release records under Illinois&rsquo; Freedom of Information Act.</p><p>The University of Chicago does have a <a href="http://safety-security.uchicago.edu/police/contact_the_ucpd/complaint_process/" target="_blank">process for investigating complaints against UCPD</a>, but that process will soon get an overhaul. Until now, all investigations were performed in-house, by a fellow UCPD officer. In response to <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20140311/hyde-park/university-of-chicago-police-no-longer-accountable-petition-claims" target="_blank">criticism about UCPD&rsquo;s perceived lack of oversight</a>, the university recently announced the hiring of a new director of professional accountability. This new position will not be filled by a uniformed officer.</p><p>So what did Jef think about all this?</p><p>&ldquo;This is much bigger than I thought when I asked the question,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I worry about a private police force. It just sounds like maybe we&rsquo;re handing too much power to them.&rdquo; Jef said he is most concerned that the average Chicagoan might never know that UCPD had such a huge jurisdiction.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s scary in that sense,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m just finding this out, and I&rsquo;ve been living in this area ten years.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Now we have an answer. Who asked the question?</span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Jef.jpg" style="float: right; margin: 5px;" title="Jef Johnson asked our question about university police after noticing UCPD officers far from campus. (Photo courtesy of Jef Johnson)" />Judging by the number of questions Jef Johnson has submitted to our <a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/" target="_blank">list of question-based story pitches</a>, he is one very curious guy. (For the record, that would be seven ... and counting!) If you haven&rsquo;t run across any of his questions we haven&rsquo;t answered yet, you might remember Jef as the truck enthusiast who launched <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/question-answered-why-ban-pickups-lake-shore-drive-where-can-they-park-104631" target="_blank">our investigation about pickup truck laws in Chicago</a>.</p><p>It turns out this question about university police was also inspired by Jef&rsquo;s driving habits. He says he first began wondering about UCPD&rsquo;s authority on a day when President Barack Obama was visiting his home in the Kenwood neighborhood.</p><p>&ldquo;They blocked off a lot of my streets, so I was taking some back streets and I saw University of Chicago Police cars in areas that seem far away from the University of Chicago.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>When Jef isn&rsquo;t thinking up questions for Curious City, he&rsquo;s a wedding minister employed by the city of Chicago.</p><p><em>Ellen Mayer is the Curious City intern. Follow her on Twitter at<a href="http://twitter.com/cementley" target="_blank"> @</a>ellenrebeccam.</em></p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Wed, 05 Nov 2014 17:26:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/campus-police-real-deal-or-rent-cops-111071 Gary looks for answers as slain police officer is remembered http://www.wbez.org/news/gary-looks-answers-slain-police-officer-remembered-110488 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Gary police 1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Retired Gary police officer Kenneth Shannon has attended a lot of funerals over the years. Some of his fallen comrades died in car accidents and others were killed by gunfire.</p><p>Today, Shannon watched from a balcony seat in a downtown convention center as dozens of law enforcement officers walked passed a closed casket of Gary Patrolman Jeffrey Westerfield &ndash; the latest to die in the line of duty.</p><p>&ldquo;He was a very personable person. A well-liked guy,&rdquo; Shannon said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s just a tragedy that someone would think of doing something like this to an officer.&rdquo;</p><p>That something occurred during the early morning hours of Sunday, July 6th &ndash; the very day Westerfield was to celebrate his 47th birthday.</p><p>The 19-year veteran responded to a call near 26th and Van Buren, only a couple of blocks from Michael Jackson&rsquo;s boyhood home. He was later found dead of a gunshot wound, sitting in his police cruiser about 5:30 a.m.</p><p>The death rocked a city that is no stranger to gun violence. And now some are asking if Gary has enough resources to protect not just its citizens &ndash; but its own cops.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s bad everywhere but the city is basically safe. You&rsquo;ve got a group of thugs that want to do what they want to do and there&rsquo;s nothing you can do about it.&nbsp;</p><p>Still, that doesn&rsquo;t mean the city isn&rsquo;t trying.</p><p>Gary officials want to boost patrols, but with a dwindling tax base there&rsquo;s not much money to go around. The city, once one of the largest in the state, is down to less than 80-thousand residents. It&rsquo;s not even the largest in Lake County, Indiana.</p><p>Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter says he&rsquo;s hoping to divert resources from the county level to help.</p><p>&ldquo;Gary obviously needs the assistance and you see our community being so aggressive with crime. You see it in Chicago too, but I think it goes back to parenting and kids and now we&rsquo;re paying the price for it,&rdquo; Carter said.</p><p>Longtime Gary City Councilman Roy Pratt also says Westerfield&rsquo;s death raises questions about police patrol tactics.</p><p>It&rsquo;s not so much manpower but we&rsquo;ve got to have more on the evening shift. He was alone by himself,&rdquo; Pratt said.</p><p>The City&rsquo;s Mayor, Karen Freeman Wilson, says she&rsquo;ll soon talk with the county sheriff&rsquo;s department about beefing up patrols. And she may ask Indiana Governor Mike Pence to assign state police to help as well.</p><p>She asked twice last year and was rejected both times. Although the Governor&rsquo;s office provided training and offered suggestions on improving the city&rsquo;s 227-member police force.</p><p>&ldquo;Of course today is for the family but tomorrow is really for us to analyze of what&rsquo;s going on and how we can do better,&rdquo; Freeman-Wilson said at today&rsquo;s funeral.</p><p>Some would say it&rsquo;s hard to do much better than an officer like Jeffrey Westerfield.</p><p>Dean Hensley lived on the same block as Westerfield in the Black Oak neighborhood. He says it was important to his fallen friend to live where he worked.</p><p>&ldquo;Jeff didn&rsquo;t have a hard job. Jeff was the kind of guy that could walk into any situation and defuse it in a heartbeat. He could turn a tragedy into a blessing,&rdquo; Hensley said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re just going to have to go on with life and remember him. Now, we have another angel watching over us.&rdquo;</p><p>Officer Jeffrey Westerfield leaves behind four daughters, a son and a fiance.</p><p>A person of interest is being held with criminal charges possibly coming soon.</p></p> Mon, 14 Jul 2014 17:26:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/gary-looks-answers-slain-police-officer-remembered-110488 Morning Shift: Should knowledge of police abuse be public domain? http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-03-14/morning-shift-should-knowledge-police-abuse-be-public <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Cover Flickr Mite Kuzevski.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We wrap up our GOP gubernatorial candidate check-ins with State Treasurer Dan Rutherford. Also, the right of the public to know when it comes to police misconduct. And, comedian W. Kamau Bell.&nbsp;</p><div class="storify"><iframe src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-should-knowledge-of-police-abuse-be/embed?header=false" width="100%" height=750 frameborder=no allowtransparency=true></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-should-knowledge-of-police-abuse-be.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-should-knowledge-of-police-abuse-be" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Should knowledge of police abuse be public domain?" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Fri, 14 Mar 2014 08:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-03-14/morning-shift-should-knowledge-police-abuse-be-public Teens learning radio skills in Chicago police program http://www.wbez.org/news/teens-learning-radio-skills-chicago-police-program-109447 <p><p>A pair of police officers on Chicago&rsquo;s South Side are helping teens learn radio production in an effort to keep them off the streets and improve their views on cops.</p><p>The program in the Englewood neighborhood fits with a push by Chicago Police Department Superintendent Garry McCarthy to improve the relationship between police officers and the people they serve.</p><p>It is called the 7th District Youth Anti-Violence Media Program. It introduces teens to the ins and outs of radio production, and gives them a chance to get on the air.</p><p>The classes are held three days a week at Kennedy-King College. The broadcasting instructors there pitch in to teach the kids.</p><p>The program was started by Daliah Goree-Pruitt and Claudette Knight, both community policing (or CAPS) officers. The two started out as beat cops. Now they are in charge of neighborhood outreach, counseling crime victims, and running community meetings &nbsp;in a neighborhood struggling with some of the highest crime rates in the city.</p><p>The two had a lot to do already. Knight and Goree-Pruitt also do a weekly food give-away and hand out turkeys before Thanksgiving. On the Saturday before Christmas, they gave away toys at the station house located at 1438 W. 63rd Street.</p><p>But 7th District Deputy Chief Leo Schmitz came to them last spring with a new task.</p><p>&ldquo;He was like, &lsquo;Think of something that we can do for the kids,&rsquo;&rdquo; Goree-Pruitt said.</p><p>Schmitz was worried about the summer then coming up, when hot temperatures and idle teens could contribute to a spike in violent crime.</p><p>Knight said they wanted to do something new.</p><p>&ldquo;You know, something different, some other added activity because you always hear basketball, baseball, but not all kids are sports-inclined,&rdquo; Knight said.</p><p>They wanted to do a swim program, but they could not get the funding. Goree-Pruitt said the only thing the department had money for was t-shirts for the participants. So Goree-Pruitt and Knight needed partners.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CAPS%202%20%281%29.jpg" style="height: 272px; width: 350px; float: right;" title="Jamar Houston of WKKC teaches Jermaine Robinson how to DJ. (WBEZ/Patrick Smith)" /></div><p>Kennedy-King College, about a mile west of the 7th District station, has a broadcasting department and its own radio station, WKKC. Knight said it was the &ldquo;perfect opportunity.&rdquo; They approached the college and got the OK.</p><p>So all they needed were students. This turned out to not be easy. The two went personally to high school principals in the area, asking them to recommend students for the program&hellip; and they got almost no response. Then they asked area pastors - again, nothing.</p><p>So Goree-Pruitt and Knight just started approaching random kids on the street and around the neighborhood.</p><p>That&rsquo;s how Genavie Clark heard about it.</p><p>&ldquo;One day [I was] sitting in Dunkin&rsquo; Donuts, and all the officers were sitting in Dunkin&rsquo; Donuts, and Officer Goree came up to my table and she told us about the radio program. So I signed up for it,&rdquo; Genavie said.</p><p>Ultimately, the two got 20 teens of high school age for that first summer class, and it went so well they did a smaller after-school version this fall.</p><p>The program gets by mostly on the power of Goree-Pruitt and Knight&rsquo;s charisma, which is considerable. But these two career cops know nothing about radio production, and they do not have any money to pay instructors.</p><p>So the students learn mostly by observing WKKC in action.</p><p>The kids are exposed to a lot of the skills that go into producing a radio show: hosting, logging tape, mixing audio - even DJ-ing.</p><p>Station manager Dennis Snipe comes in every once in awhile to talk to the students about diction and public speaking, the assistant program director lets them look over her shoulder while she logs tape, and the hosts give them pointers during music breaks.</p><p>The summer classes were from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., so the students had to be fed. The owner of a shopping plaza across the street from the station donated Subway sandwiches.</p><p>So it&rsquo;s a nice story. But at first glance, none of it seems much like police work.</p><p>Knight disagrees.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s all about community interaction, because the youth especially, most of their interaction with the police is negative. So if you start introducing a positive interaction at a teenage level, then they start to view us in a different way,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>WBEZ ran a story on Dec. 23 about <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/8000-chicago-cops-now-little-friendlier-109425">police legitimacy training: thousands of Chicago cops re-learning how to best interact with the people they serve.</a></p><p>Efforts such as the radio program and legitimacy training fit with Superintendent McCarthy&rsquo;s priority on what he calls a return to community policing.</p><p>A recent study by Yale criminologist Andrew Papachristos found that Chicago in 2013 has had its lowest violent-crime rate in the past three decades. McCarthy credits community policing with a decrease in crime.</p><p>Goree-Pruitt believes it&rsquo;s part of her job to connect with people.</p><p>&ldquo;I feel like I can help these kids. I may not help all of them, but the ones that I can help, they&rsquo;ll know the police department just don&rsquo;t lock kids up,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Besides teaching them how to produce a radio show and to like cops, the officers use the class as a way to help the students deal with their own issues. They talk to the students about resolving conflicts, safe sex, and staying out of trouble.</p><p>Before they start the radio lessons, the students gather around a round table in a small windowless room across from the WKKC studios.</p><p>One of the girls is talking to Goree-Pruitt about problems she is having with her stepmom. She says her dad is getting a divorce, and he blames her.</p><p>Goree-Pruitt councils her on being the mature one, even though her stepmom is the adult.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve had the same issues, having two parents to living with just my mom, to my mom getting remarried, to my mom getting rid of all four of her daughters to be with this new husband, to my dad raising four daughters by himself. So I am no different from you all. Like I tell you all, because we&rsquo;re the police doesn&rsquo;t mean that we&rsquo;re not human,&rdquo; Goree-Pruitt told them.</p><p>Goree-Pruitt and Knight look tougher than they sound, and they both spent time on the beat, dealing with high-stress situations. But they also have families of their own, so maybe it is not surprising that they connect so well with teens.</p><p>&ldquo;When I come here it just, all my stress just goes away,&rdquo; freshman Wattsita Henley said.</p><p>The fall class, which ended earlier this month, was five high schoolers, three girls and two boys, and most did not seem like the types police really need to worry about.</p><p>Freshman James Cross Jr. said the closest he has ever gotten to drugs is seeing weed in a bag at school.</p><p>&ldquo;One of my friends showed me a bag, and I don&rsquo;t know why but I just started laughing,&rdquo; James &nbsp;told the group.</p><p>The other boy, Jermaine Robinson, has gotten into some trouble in the past.</p><p>He left Englewood to live with his grandmother in suburban Hazel Crest for a few years. &nbsp;He said he came back because it was just too quiet out there.</p><p>Robinson is about to start at Winnie Mandela, an alternative high school in the South Shore neighborhood.</p><p>He likes working with his hands, so he is trying to learn how to DJ.</p><p>His ultimate goal is to be a computer engineer.</p><p>&ldquo;Because like, when I was in 5th grade we did a program, and I earned a computer and I was taking it apart and putting it back together and stuff like that,&rdquo; Jermaine said.</p><p>Goree-Pruitt said she is not worried about what type of kids they are reaching, adding that she is just glad to be reaching any.</p><p>&ldquo; All I can say is that you touch one you reach another one, because they&rsquo;ll tell, they&rsquo;ll tell their friends.&rdquo;</p><p>The next radio class starts in January.</p><p>Patrick Smith is a WBEZ producer and reporter. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/pksmid">@pksmid</a>.</p></p> Fri, 27 Dec 2013 14:49:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/teens-learning-radio-skills-chicago-police-program-109447 Neglected rape kits require Cook County victims to recount assaults http://www.wbez.org/news/neglected-rape-kits-require-cook-county-victims-recount-assaults-108479 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/robbins.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Cook County sheriff&rsquo;s office wants victims of as many as 201 unsolved rapes in south suburban Robbins to come forward and tell their stories, again.</p><p>That&rsquo;s because Robbins police didn&rsquo;t properly investigate them the first time.</p><p>Earlier this year the Cook County sheriff&rsquo;s office discovered 201 rape kits - dating back to 1978 - in a disorganized evidence locker in the Robbins police station.</p><p>One-hundred-and-fifty of the rape kits had been analyzed by state police, but Robbins police never conducted any further investigation. The other 51 hadn&rsquo;t even been sent to the state crime lab for testing.</p><p>&ldquo;Nationally the issue of untested rape kits is a big one &hellip;. But what we&rsquo;re talking about here is something more challenging. This department had sent in the kits but then never worked the results,&rdquo; sheriff spokeswoman Cara Smith said.</p><p>Robbins Mayor Tyrone Ward and police Chief Melvin Davis took over in May, about two months after the rape kits were found. At a press conference yesterday they stressed that the neglected rape kits were failures of past administrations, and did not reflect on their leadership.</p><p>Davis said he has replaced a quarter of the village&rsquo;s police department.</p><p>After he was hired, Davis said he conducted interviews with all of the officers, and determined that six of the 24 patrol officers weren&rsquo;t suited for the job. He also brought in new leadership.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve established a new command staff and we are making sure that all safeguards are in place to make sure this never happens again,&rdquo; Davis said.</p><p>Ward also promised that the underlying issues that led to the rape kits being neglected had been addressed. But he stopped short of promising more resources for the beleaguered police department.</p><p>&ldquo;You shouldn&rsquo;t work based on your salary, you should work based on your heart,&rdquo; Ward said.</p><p>Right now, the town of about 5,400 residents has two full-time officers - in addition to the command staff - and 24 part timers.</p><p>Davis said they are planning to transition three more officers into full-time roles.</p><p>The uninvestigated rape kits were discovered in March after a probe by the Cook County sheriff&rsquo;s office.</p><p>The sheriff&rsquo;s office took over the investigations and now is asking for help solving the sexual assaults the kits are tied to.</p><p>Smith said the condition of the kits was so bad that at least seven are water-damaged and unusable. And she said there are police reports for &ldquo;very few&rdquo; of the rape kits.</p><p>That&rsquo;s why she pleaded with victims to come forward to help investigators piece together what little information they have.</p><p>&ldquo;We may in some cases need to put together the case from the very beginning,&rdquo; Smith said.</p><p>Smith said the sheriff&rsquo;s office is pleased with the steps the new Robbins administration has taken. As for the old administration, she said in the six months since the rape kits were discovered she has never heard an explanation for how the kits went ignored.</p><p>&ldquo;In some of these cases we may be left saying [to the victim], we don&rsquo;t have an explanation for why it happened, but today we believe you and we&rsquo;ve done everything we could to try and bring justice to you,&rdquo; Smith said.</p><p>The sheriff&rsquo;&rsquo;s office and the office of the Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney&rsquo;s are both trying to figure out a way to bring charges in the old sexual assault cases. The statute of limitations has run out on most of them.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s nuances in the law depending on the age of the victim, the age of the crime, if DNA was uploaded, &ldquo; Smith said. &ldquo;So we have to kind of put those pieces together for each one of these, but we are certainly going to have cases where we can&rsquo;t bring charges, and that&rsquo;s a crime in and of itself.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Patrick Smith is a WBEZ reporter. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/pksmid" target="_blank">@pksmid</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 21 Aug 2013 14:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/neglected-rape-kits-require-cook-county-victims-recount-assaults-108479 Morning Shift: Getting the band back together http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-08-08/morning-shift-getting-band-back-together-108333 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/microphone-Flickr- ceratosaurrr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>For this week&#39;s &quot;Music Thursday&quot;, Richard Steele and Sound Opinions&#39; Robin Linn play tunes from some of their favorite bands who reunited and brought the hits (and misses) back to the fans.</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-39.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-39" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Getting the band back together" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Thu, 08 Aug 2013 08:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-08-08/morning-shift-getting-band-back-together-108333 Chicago's top cop makes arrest http://www.wbez.org/news/chicagos-top-cop-makes-arrest-104641 <p><p>Chicago&#39;s police superintendent is apparently not content urging his officers to make more arrests.</p><p>Early Tuesday morning, Superintendent Garry McCarthy helped arrest a 23-year-old Chicago man on felony weapons charges.</p><p>McCarthy was on patrol with officers from the Austin District on the city&#39;s West Side when during a traffic stop of a vehicle he helped find a gun. Department spokeswoman Melissa Stratton says that a man in the car, identified as Montrez Armstead was arrested and charged with felony aggravated unlawful use of a weapon.</p><p>Stratton says that McCarthy and other members of the department&#39;s command staff routinely go out on patrol.</p></p> Wed, 02 Jan 2013 08:26:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicagos-top-cop-makes-arrest-104641 Sex-assault case dropped against ex-NIU officer http://www.wbez.org/news/sex-assault-case-dropped-against-ex-niu-officer-104068 <p><p>SYCAMORE, Ill. &mdash; Charges have been dropped against a former Northern Illinois University police officer accused of sexually assaulting a student in October 2011.</p><p>The case had been plagued by questions over whether the NIU police department intentionally withheld information that might have aided the former officer&#39;s defense.</p><p>Prosecutors decided to drop the charges after hearing testimony Tuesday that raised further questions over the police department&#39;s handling of the case.</p><p>The <a href="http://bit.ly/X01BGm" target="_blank">(DeKalb) Daily Chronicle reports</a> that a computer forensics expert testified that the police department&#39;s chief had him remove files from his laptop.</p><p>A lawyer for former officer Andrew Rifkin praised the decision to drop the case and insisted his client was innocent.</p><p>A student accused him of sexually assaulting her at his apartment.</p></p> Wed, 28 Nov 2012 12:07:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/sex-assault-case-dropped-against-ex-niu-officer-104068 Activists marching against police abuse in suburban North Chicago http://www.wbez.org/news/activists-marching-against-police-abuse-suburban-north-chicago-103783 <p><p>Activists, attorneys and politicians are planning to march against police violence and abuse in a suburb north of Chicago Saturday. The march is intended to put pressure on the North Chicago Police Department, which has seen a number of scandals in the last year. One of those involved the case of Darrin Hanna who was beaten by police during an arrest and died a week later. &nbsp;More recently, the former police chief in North Chicago was charged with stealing money police had seized in drug cases.<br /><br />Attorney Stephen Potts is planning to march Saturday. He&rsquo;s suing the city on behalf of an 11-year-old who says last year Officer Casimir Rincon came to his school and handcuffed him and shoved him against some lockers in retaliation for an altercation between the boy and the officer&rsquo;s child.<br /><br />&ldquo;When you have officers that can do what they want whenever they want, they&rsquo;re going to do it,&rdquo; said Potts. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re going to push it to the extremes, to the extremes of handcuffing an 11-year-old kid. &nbsp;That&rsquo;s where it is now. That&rsquo;s how far it&rsquo;s gotten.&rdquo;<br /><br />North Chicago Mayor Leon Rockingham says the city has talked to students, parents and teachers about the incident at the school but still doesn&rsquo;t know what happened. But Rockingham says his police department has been actively discipling officers, firing one in the last year, in addition to suspending the police chief charged with stealing cash taken in drug seizures. He says he and the new police chief, a lieutenant, an Human Resources representative and a citizen now review every incident in which police use force.<br />&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 09 Nov 2012 16:49:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/activists-marching-against-police-abuse-suburban-north-chicago-103783 Chicago Crime Commission calls for 1,400 more cops http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-crime-commission-calls-1400-more-cops-102671 <p><p>There are many ideas swirling from aldermen, religious leaders and community groups about how to address gang violence. The Chicago Crime Commission joined the conversation Tuesday with their own recommendations, which quickly garnered the support of the Fraternal Order of Police.</p><p>The commission&#39;s plan is twofold: First, they want the city to hire 1400 more police officers immediately. According to members, their calculations came from comparing the number of sworn officers working in patrol operations with the number of established beats and norms for police patrol manpower across the country.&nbsp;</p><p>Second, they said the&nbsp;US District Attorney and the Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney should help train Chicago police to prosecute armed gang members under federal laws.&nbsp;</p><p>Commission board member Peter Bensinger says they want gang members locked up in federal prisons.<br /><br />&quot;It&rsquo;s a different story. It&rsquo;s different time, harder time, further away from their cohorts and their gangs,&quot; Bensinger said.&nbsp;<br /><br />As for how to fund this plan, Bensinger and other members say that&#39;s not their job. &nbsp;</p><p>&quot;The Crime Commission here is not going to respond to &#39;how do you address the payroll or the budget problems for these additional policemen&#39;. That&#39;s up to the mayor, the city council and our greater community. And we wouldn&#39;t be doing our job if we had to comment on how many police officers can you afford,&quot; Bensiger said.&nbsp;</p><p>Pat Camden, spokesman for the Fraternal Order of Police, said he thinks Chicagoans would be willing to foot the bill for the commission&#39;s plan.&nbsp;<br /><br />&quot;It becomes an issue that &lsquo;we&rsquo;re not going to raise property taxes, we&rsquo;re not going to do this.&rsquo; By not raising property taxes, put us in this situation to begin with,&quot; Camden said.&nbsp;<br /><br />Camden said he supports the Crime Commission&rsquo;s recommendation wholeheartedly.<br /><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 26 Sep 2012 05:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-crime-commission-calls-1400-more-cops-102671