Crooked cops raise a stink across the Southland
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
by SouthtownStar editorial staff
The issue: An FBI drug sting resulted in the arrests of 17 men,
including four Harvey police officers, 10 Cook County corrections
officers and one Chicago cop.
We say: With undercover deals in Tinley Park and Oak Lawn parking
lots to seedy strip clubs in Harvey, few suburban communities were
spared from the actions of accused dirty cops.
I f you think you're not affected by today's Page 1 news because you
live in a nice house in a safe neighborhood in a good suburb, we beg to
From train stations to suburban airports, drug dealers, informants
and enforcers mingle among law-abiding citizens. This disturbing story
of an FBI probe into dirty cops and drug deals serves as a reminder to
how interconnected we are in the Southland and the Chicago region in
FBI officials are accusing 17 people - mostly public safety
officials - of accepting up to $4,000 each to serve as lookouts and
intervene if honest police or rival drug dealers attempted to interfere
with what they believed to be shipments of cocaine and heroin. The men,
including Harvey cops and Cook County correctional officers, protected
drug shipments, provided security at a high-stakes poker game and
protected the transportation of large amounts of cash, federal
prosecutors alleged Tuesday.
"When drug dealers deal drugs, they ought to be afraid of the police
- not turn to them for help," U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald called it "particularly shocking" that cops helped unload and deliver drug shipments.
Sadly, we are not as shocked. For years, this newspaper's
investigative efforts called attention to the suspect actions of some
officers in the Harvey Police Department. Today, thanks to the efforts
of the FBI, some of those officers now stand charged with crimes. These
people, entrusted with responsibility for law and order, made choices
to steal, cheat and betray. And the culprits be confined to one small
town with a sordid history. The men, officials say, hailed from homes
in Joliet, Richton Park, Country Club Hills and Glenwood. Two are in
Afghanistan (the world's biggest heroin bazaar) supposedly fighting for
our freedom. And the "deals" spread out across the region ---taking
place in retail and hotel parking lots in Homewood, Tinley Park, Oak
Lawn, Matteson and Bolingbrook.
How far will this spread? So far it's hard to tell. But it's clear that corruption knows no borders.
With cops accused of joining in the illegal drug trade and the
violence it brings, it's also clear that thousands of innocent,
hardworking Harvey residents weren't protected, but endangered by those
sworn to protect and service.
One police officer's chilling comment, included in the indictment,
seems to show a city police force serving as training ground for thugs:
"I ain't always been in law enforcement ... I use my street knowledge
as well as what they taught me on the force to watch and learn body
language, cars and we can do things on an as to know basis."
The residents of this region owe a considerable debt to the FBI
agent who went undercover more than a year ago at a Harvey strip club,
establishing himself as a drug broker looking for police to provide
security for drug deals.
We applaud the authorities for bringing these charges, but we know
there is more work to do. We know this investigation can reach more
deeply into the belly of the corrupt beast. Crooked cops and officials
must be a constant focus for federal and state justice officials.
The citizens of Illinois deserve no less.