Drug charges were unsealed Tuesday against 15 officers: four Harvey cops, 10 Cook County correctional officers and a Chicago Police officer. The FBI orchestrated 12 fake drug deals over the last year.
City attorneys alleged that Officer Aaron Pena went to the Walgreens in the 1900 block of West Cermak Road in August 2007, bought two bags of trail mix and then took a third from the store without paying. Pena was recorded on store security cameras.
Not one of the officers contacted for "Cracking Down on Bad Cops" would admit that they or their colleagues had ever been affected by the code of silence. Their comments went something like this: "The code of silence is not part of the culture of this agency."
Among more polite officers, internal affairs is thought of as a necessary evil. In less polite, more candid circles it's thought of in less savory terms like "the secret police" and "the rat squad."
Not all police misconduct is plastered across national newspapers, but it all has the same results. It erodes the public’s trust in law enforcement and it damages good cops, sometimes destroying their careers.
As a division executive officer, I saw many distraught cops come into my office to discuss mistakes they or their subordinates had made. Before deciding how to proceed I'd ask the same question: "Was it a mistake of the head, the heart, or the hormones?"
According to media accounts, nearly 100 officers who joined the force during a 1989-90 recruitment drive-when background screening and standards were all but non-existent-were later charged with criminal wrongdoing.
As of mid-June this year, there were 548 local, state and federal law enforcement officers in federal prisons alone up from 107 in 1994. An unknown number of other ex-officers are in state lockups. The figures come from "Misconduct to Corruption," a lengthy report released in June and compiled by officials from 15 cities with assistance from the FBI.