A report issued Tuesday by Chicago’s top watchdog revealed police officers -- and their friends and family -- misused official police parking placards to get free spaces near Soldier Field, Wrigley Field and in downtown alleyways.
Inspector General Joe Ferguson’s office found that police “are conferred additional preferential treatment by being allowed to park personal vehicles at the district stations to attend nearby sporting events.” Those stations are the Central District at 1718 S. State St. and the Town Hall District at 850 W. Addison St.
In 2018, members of the Inspector General’s office reported observing non-CPD cars drive into the Central District’s station lot, with relatives doned in Bears attire, then head to Soldier Field. The cars had CPD parking placards displayed in the windshield.
The Inspector General’s office also said it observed vehicles displaying CPD parking placards illegally parked in an alleyway in the 140 block of West Court Place behind the Cadillac Palace Theatre. The report said vehicles were parked under fire escapes – blocking the theatre’s emergency exits and fire lanes.
In response to the report, the Chicago Police Department’s general counsel said in a letter to Ferguson’s office that “the Chicago Police Department strives to ensure that all of its facilities, assets, and real property – including its district parking lots – are used in accordance with the overall mission and public safety goals of the Department.”
The letter said the commander of the Central District, which is only a mile from Soldier Field, told police staff that the parking lot is “reserved for on-duty police officers and members of the Department conducting business in the building.”
The police department also said the commander at the station in Wrigleyville would let off-duty police officers park in the district lot to have extra manpower nearby.
However police officials said they have confiscated parking placards used in cars that were parked behind the Palace Theatre. Furthermore, police officers assigned to City Hall are barred from parking in the alley, and have been encouraged to take public transportation.
It’s not the first time police have been accused of preferential treatment. The Chicago Sun-Times previously reported parking abuses around United Center sporting events. Additionally, former 45th Ward Ald. John Arena 45th had came under fire for asking for preferential parking for Cubs games.
Elliott Ramos is WBEZ's Data Editor. Follow him @ChicagoEl.