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*** UPDATED x1 *** Is some proactive policing making things worse?

Thursday, Aug 9, 2018

* Tribune

Nearly 33,000 juveniles arrested over about the last two decades have been labeled by Chicago police as gang members, according to police data. […]

At the time of their arrest, 13 of the juveniles were just 10 years old. About 60 were 11. And more than 300 were 12, a Tribune analysis of the records showed.

Experts cautioned that labeling juveniles as gang members can create a stigma that causes lifelong problems for them yet serves little purpose for police.

The Police Department defends its gang databases, saying they remain an important tool in fighting what drives much of Chicago’s violence. However, the department has promised reforms in how people end up listed as gang members and in how they can remove their names.

Um, based on available evidence, that crime prevention “tool” isn’t working so well. It’s also allegedly unreliable

Civil rights groups filed a lawsuit Tuesday alleging that the Chicago Police Department relies on an error-plagued database that names up to 195,000 people as gang members, including many who have never been in a gang.

Many people were erroneously listed in the database simply because of a tattoo, social media post or address, according to the federal lawsuit from Northwestern University’s MacArthur Justice Center and other groups. Those listed as gang members have a harder time landing jobs, are more likely to be denied bond after arrests and are often targets of harassment by police or immigration officers, it contends.

The way police manage the database is “arbitrary, discriminatory” and “over-inclusive,” and it gives beat officers “unlimited discretion” to falsely label people gang members “based solely on their race and neighborhood,” the lawsuit states. In some cases, license-reading devices flag cars registered to someone in the gang database, increasing the odds of the car being stopped.

* And then there’s this

A joint investigation by Chicago police and the Norfolk Southern Railroad that used a truck loaded with goods and left parked in Englewood as a lure for potential thieves has come under fire after video of the operation went viral.

“This bait truck operation is an unacceptable and inappropriate use of police resources,” said Ald. Roderick Sawyer, 6th, chair of the City Council’s Black Caucus. “In a moment where police capacity is clearly under extreme strain, these sort of tactics are the last thing we should be spending manpower and energy on.”

A video shot earlier this month that was posted on the Facebook page of community activist Charles Mckenzie appears to show officers arresting a man after he allegedly broke into a “bait truck” in the Englewood neighborhood. People on the video argue that community members are being set up for arrest.

Police have often used bait vehicles to catch people in the act of committing a robbery or a theft. Susan Terpay, a spokeswoman for the Norfolk Southern Railroad police, which worked with Chicago police on the investigation, defended the Englewood investigation, noting these sting operations are tactics used by law enforcement to crack down on patterns of thefts in certain areas.


In a statement, Norfolk Southern spokeswoman Susan Terpay said the trucks were part of a “joint surveillance operation to apprehend the individuals who have been breaking into freight containers at NS railyards in Southside Chicago.”

However, the railyards are more than a mile away from where the trucks were parked on city streets.

A mile away? Sheesh.

*** UPDATE *** Paul Vallas…

I’m for law and order, but the the time and resources used for a theft sting in Englewood is a misappropriation of limited police resources. Those resources should be focused on catching shooters and killers! How can a community engage with police if they feel their kids are being tricked by police? We need to build and earn trust with the community if we are to make headway in reducing the unacceptable levels of violence.

Agreed on all counts.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - DuPage Saint - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 10:54 am:

    10 and 11 year olds are not supposed to be arrested but referred to DCFS

  2. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 11:06 am:

    Looking at the Norfolk Southern railyards on Google Maps. There don’t seem to be any communities near there, in a plot of land between interstates. So why not put up a fence, get a couple of dogs,hire some security guards, get some cameras. If you are walking around there and you don’t work there then you don’t belong there. You can get arrested for trespassing. What does a truck a mile away do? Why Englewood and not Winnetka?

  3. - Jocko - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 11:06 am:

    ==People on the video argue that community members are being set up for arrest.==

    I have little sympathy for anyone over 18 that is foolish enough to break into someone’s car for some Nikes.

  4. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 11:12 am:

    ===I have little sympathy for anyone over 18 that is foolish enough to break into someone’s car for some Nikes.===

    First, it wasn’t a car. It was a truck. Second, do you have any sympathy for the deaf man arrested who said he was looking for food?

  5. - A Jack - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 11:12 am:

    I would think they could spare one old container car and maybe some gun manufacturer’s name on the side of the container.

  6. - Just Observing - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 11:15 am:

    It is quite odd and troubling that Northfolk Southern would be involved in a sting operation so far out of their purview. Maybe their railroad police are bored and itching for some action… but that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    That said… in general, I don’t have a problem with “bait” vehicle operations. As long as the bait vehicle locations are determined based on crime patterns and not demographics. Nobody is making anyone break into a vehicle and steal the vehicle or the goods inside.

  7. - Last Bull Moose - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 11:15 am:

    Ages may not be known at time of arrest. Gangs use underage members as part of their operations.

    In Illinois we can bait mice, can’t bait deer, criminals?

    I don’t have a problem with the trucks as bait. Honest folks are not breaking into a locked truck.

  8. - A Jack - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 11:17 am:

    @Da Big Bad Wolf: In previous news reports of gun thefts from railroads, the railroads claimed that added security was not worth the cost since the shipments were insured anyway.

    Apparently when considering the cost, they neglected the cost in human lives.

  9. - RNUG - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 11:18 am:

    == Police have often used bait vehicles to catch people in the act of committing a robbery or a theft. ==

    Even downstate, bait cars or vans were standard operating procedure. Retired LE friend used to use his own work van as a bait vehicle when there was a rash of vehicle burglaries in a neighborhood.

  10. - JB13 - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 11:19 am:

    If you believe leaving an unmarked truck filled with unmarked merchandise to entrap thieves in a predominantly black neighborhood is racist… then you are racially profiling, just as much as the cops.

  11. - Cable Line Beer Gardener - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 11:21 am:

    I thought juvenile records were supposed to be protected.

  12. - Been There - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 11:25 am:

    ===So why not put up a fence, get a couple of dogs,hire some security guards, get some cameras.===
    Obviously you have never been in Chicago recently. Fences, cameras, dogs, security guards are everywhere. Especially near the rail yards. But there are miles and miles of rail yards in Chicago. Not as easy or cheap as you make it sound.
    I do have a some problem with sting operations but there have been a rash of trains broken into and sometimes they hit the jackpot and guns are inside.
    And for those that ask if they do this up in Winnetka that is like trying to catch a fish in a cornfield. Obviously if you think a sting operation will go after the people that have previously broken into your train or trucks you go in that neighborhood.

  13. - JoanP - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 11:27 am:

    Those gang databases are truly outrageous.

    You can get your name in one because you “associate” with “known” gang members. Like your cousin, or the guy you’ve known since third grade.

    And you never get off them. It might be twenty years and you’ve turned your life around, but you’ll never be off the list.

  14. - City Zen - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 11:30 am:

    ==There don’t seem to be any communities near there==

    Parkway Gardens is adjacent to the rail yard.

  15. - Streamwod Retiree - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 11:34 am:

    Everyone complains the police are not doing anything about violent crime. When they do do something they are “picking on the community”.
    If I were a cop I would keep my head down and do the minimum until retirement. Or look for a job in a suburb or small town where the politicians don’t make peace treaties with criminal organizations.

    Regarding the Winnetka comment: That’s just silly. People in Winnetka don’t rob trucks. They rob widows and orphans and pension funds. Takes a different kind of sting there.

    Regarding breaking into a truck to find food. Former Mayor Daley said if anyone in Chicago was hungry they could come to City Hall and be fed. What does Rahm say?

  16. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 11:35 am:

    ===rash of vehicle burglaries in a neighborhood===

    I’m betting he wouldn’t park his van a mile away from the neighborhood, however.

  17. - Real - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 11:39 am:

    Lets put a bait car full of goods in the middle of a poor neighborhood and see what happens. They knew what would happen.

  18. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 11:48 am:

    Cheap? I never said cheap. But if I was the insurance company paying for those thefts I would would expect the railroad to take the bare minimum precautions.

  19. - strawman - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 11:48 am:

    crazy how people are calling on CPD to do more about the crime/violence in the City yet every measure taken is met with immediate social backlash. Can’t have it both ways folks.

  20. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 11:52 am:

    ==That’s just silly. People in Winnetka don’t rob trucks.==
    What makes you so sure about that? A successful thief or drug dealer can afford to live wherever he/she chooses.

  21. - Amalia - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 11:54 am:

    railroad break ins are a big thing. finding the thieves is important. as for juvy interactions with police, I’d like to see a study about “station adjustments” and times they encounter police and the police let them go. in my experience, the kids had a high number of police encounters where they could have been processed but were not. so the first “arrest” is not really that. the gangs use younger kids. and some of those kids do real damage to victims.

  22. - Huh? - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 11:55 am:

    There used to be a TV show titled “Bait Car”. The car was wired for cameras, tracking, etc.

  23. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 11:55 am:

    1) There is no such thing as an error-free database, and that fictitious standard doesn’t make any database useless.

    2) 373 out of 33,000 is unbelievably good. I bet it isn’t that good.

    3) We really have no way to know if the database is preventing crime, based upon the current murder rate - but it definately does not make the database useless.

    4) The database is 20 years old. What had become of the 373 non-juveniles? Did they stay out of trouble?

    5) Being deaf doesn’t make one unable to find food.

  24. - Real - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 11:56 am:

    crazy how people are calling on CPD to do more about the crime/violence in the City yet every measure taken is met with immediate social backlash. Can’t have it both ways folks.

    -This is not a good way to fight crime. Putting a bait car in the middle of a poor neighborhood is setting someone up for a police record. How about instead of using those resources to set up a bait car and pay those officers instead you help that individual find employment.

  25. - Huh? - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 11:57 am:

    Whatever happened to keeping your hands off stuff that doesn’t belong to you? The truck isn’t yours, why opening the trailer? Deserve what you get, bait truck or not.

  26. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 11:59 am:

    ===5) Being deaf doesn’t make one unable to find food.===

    No kidding. The issue was about sympathy, or more precisely, the lack thereof. Did you even read the story?

  27. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 12:00 pm:

    ===Whatever happened to===

    Whatever happened to an overburdened police force with no time to deal with a protest on the Dan Ryan? They had a bunch of cops at that bait truck and arrested three people. Whoa. Great job.

  28. - SaulGoodman - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 12:08 pm:

    **crazy how people are calling on CPD to do more about the crime/violence in the City yet every measure taken is met with immediate social backlash. Can’t have it both ways folks.**

    How specifically does busting kids for stealing planted Nike’s deal with any violence issue?

  29. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 12:14 pm:

    ==crazy how people are calling on CPD to do more about the crime/violence in the City yet every measure taken is met with immediate social backlash. Can’t hve it both ways folks.==

    Crazy how people are calling on residents in poor neighborhoods to pull themselves up by their bootstraps in the city yet they can’t get a job because someone decided to put them on a gang database. Can’t have it both ways, folks.

  30. - West Side the Best Side - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 12:43 pm:

    The late 1st District Appellate Court Justice Patrick Quinn (no relation to the former governor) wrote the following about bait cars in a special concurrence in People v. Carreon, 2013 IL App (1st) 112468-U: “I completely concur in the majority’s analysis and result. I write separately to express my criticism of the practice by the Chicago Police Department of leaving ‘bait’ cars on city streets to entice imbeciles to enter them and drive away. The procedure utilized involves having a bogus traffic stop in front of a crowd of young males….The police leave the scene after making sure that the nearby young males have observed them leave the car doors unlocked. As the police realize that only a person without the intellectual capacity to hot-wire a car would be stupid enough to enter the car, the police leave the keys in the car [albeit not in the ignition] so he can drive it away…. After the miscreant goes in the car, finds the key, and drives away, the police pounce and take this simpleton into custody…. I am not saying that the legal defense of entrapment applies to these cases. I am saying that the procedure employed is designed to apprehend dimwitted people who act impulsively in a classic crime of opportunity. The practice of using ‘bait’ cars under the circumstances present in this case is counter productive to apprehending actual criminals and it should be stopped.”

  31. - A Jack - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 12:45 pm:

    As far as the railroads go, I think it will take an ambitious DA to sue the railroads for taking inadequate safeguards to prevent the illegal transfer of firearms. Perhaps the GA needs to spell out adequate safeguards such as video surveillance of the boxcars with weapons. And I am sure the NRA will freak out at such a suit. But a lot of boxcar weapons have been used in Chicago murders, so these thefts need to be addressed.

  32. - Arthur Andersen - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 1:40 pm:

    A very poor decision somewhere in the middle management of the CPD magnified 1000x by the outbreaks of violence that highlighted the CPD’s structural understaffing. Bad Form, guys.

  33. - Milorad - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 2:04 pm:

    Some of these “thieves” have been stealing guns, so there is that.

  34. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 2:07 pm:

    ===Some of these “thieves” have been stealing guns===


    They are stealing guns off of train cars. You really think the same people they busted taking shoes are the gun thieves? You need a nap.

  35. - Jimk849 - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 2:12 pm:

    Read second city cop daily see how often you read the term “stay fetal”

  36. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 2:14 pm:

    ===see how often you read the term “stay fetal”===

    And all those cops should be fired. They have a sworn duty. If they don’t want to uphold their oath, they should leave or be shown the door.

  37. - Soccermom - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 2:19 pm:

    The CPD “gang database” is a joke — an ugly joke. There are no criteria to go on it and no way to get off. So even if your “gang association” is having the same name as a suspected gang member — once you’re on, you’re on for life. It’s also used for deportations, which is an added horror.

  38. - anon2 - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 2:30 pm:

    So when someone breaks into a truck, it’s the police who are to blame? If so, then I suppose when a would-be john propositions an attractive undercover police officer, it’s her fault, too. And when police send into a bar an 18-year old who looks her age, it’s not the bartender’s fault for serving her without asking for ID.

  39. - Milorad - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 2:35 pm:

    Yeah…Those “thieves” must have accidentally thought those trucks belonged to them.

  40. - Freezeup - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 3:16 pm:

    All functions and duties of law enforcement can’t be dropped just because there were 70 shootings in one weekend. (Snark)

    Well… maybe they can. And that is exactly what would happen in a smaller agency.

  41. - frisbee - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 3:43 pm:

    Petty theft is not the same crime as murder. Sure, maybe some of these petty thieves could be or could lead to some of the folks responsible for the rail car gun thefts but these bait trucks are just going after the low hanging fruit.

    Serve and protect. CPD isn’t serving these communities by protecting the owners of the rail cars or Nike’s by baiting folks with minimal economic opportunities.

  42. - Anonymous - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 4:06 pm:

    This is a form of Police job security?


  43. - Anon - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 4:43 pm:

    As someone who used to work in IDJJ, yes the kids will tell you their affiliation if you ask them; they are proud of it.

    The kids in IDJJ openly gangbang all day because of no consequences.

  44. - FormerParatrooper - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 5:32 pm:

    This gang database sounds like the Federal no fly list. Which one was the template for the other? Both are seem to run afoul of common sense and law.

    I heard something interesting awhile back from a co-worker who lives in Texas and has relatives in Chicago. He was told that in some gang areas of Chicago people would find boxes dumped in alleys with firearms in them. He said one of his relatives told him the CPD was doing this. I had never heard that rumor before and was wondering if anyone else has heard it?

  45. - Amalia - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 6:10 pm:

    FBI arrested gang members in 8 homes in Milwaukee recently. They are affiliated with a Chicago gang because apparently there is gang franchising going on. re the FBI, they pay off neighbors to watch out for them giving money and heroin. Chicago has more gangs than other cities. we cannot be proactive enough with policing. and those who take the money and drugs from the gangs, you are part of the problem.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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