Monday, April 21, 2008

Chicago Police Corruption - Officers Charged With Home Invasions

Three more Chicago police officers were charged Monday with corruption, only three months after four rogue officers faced charges of using their badges to break into homes and rob them.

Thirty-eight-year-old Frank Villareal and 32-year-old Margaret Hopkins are charged with home invasion and official misconduct. Forty-year-old James McGovern is charged only with official misconduct. The officers turned themselves Monday as part of an ongoing corruption investigation.

"Abusive Chicago police officers have been allowed to perpetuate abuse in Chicago with virtual absolute impunity," said Craig Futterman, a law professor at the University of Chicago.

Futterman has researched citizen complaints against Chicago police. A percentage cause big problems and there's no system in place to track them.

"Just 5 percent is responsible for the overwhelming majority of the abuse complaints. Two-hundred sixty-two officers have 11 or more complaints," Futterman said.

Officers Jerome Finnigan, 43, Keith Herrera, 28, Thomas Sherry, 32, and Carl Suchocki, 32, were arrested in September.

Bond was set in September in the millions for all four.

Prosecutors say the officers abused their authority to terrorize and steal from people. They say the men allegedly forced their way into homes of drug dealers and ordinary citizens. The officers allegedly took everything from drugs to guns and in come cases thousands of dollars in cash.

Prosecutors said there were numerous cases where the officers never showed up in court to testify, which allowed alleged drug dealers to go free.

Futterman says there were plenty of red flags about their behavior long before their arrests.

"Even with these special operations group guys, they have 50 or more complaints. They were never disciplined, identified, or flagged in any way," Futterman said.

In a statement, Chicago Police Supt. Phil Cline said Monday's arrests "further illustrate the department's ongoing commitment to root out bad cops who violate the public's trust and the professional integrity of the Chicago Police Department. Since 2003, the department has remained committed and continues to be vigilant in identifying patterns of misconduct."

Pressure on the department to deal with corruption allegations has intensified. Cline pointedly said no one is above the law, and misconduct on any level will not be tolerated.

But Futterman insists even the worst cops know there's little oversight.

"Officers with 11 or more complaints know with 99 percent certainty nothing will happen to them due to citizen abuse complaints," Futterman said.

Cline has implicitly admitted oversight has been lax in the past but says new systems are being tested to identify troubling patterns of conduct.

1 comment:

OldSchoolCPD said...

The majority of these officer have has thier charges dropped after the investigaion revealed witnesses lied. Another case of lawyers attempting to extort $$ by using police officer conduct as a tool.