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Chicago police misused placards to park for free near Bears, Cubs games, probe finds

Jeremy Gorner, Chicago Tribune on

Published in News & Features

The theater's records showed more than 100 such violations on Court Place between March 2016 and December 2017. Police frequently failed to respond to the calls and complaints about the unsafe parking, Ferguson's office said those records showed.

"Theatre personnel expressed concern that an emergency requiring evacuation of the venue would be hindered by these vehicles continuing to park on Court Place," the report said. "This avoidable and unnecessary risk existed for years because CPD officers sought to avoid paying for parking downtown or taking alternative means of transportation to City Hall."

One sergeant told Ferguson's investigators that officers assigned to City Hall had routinely been parking on Court Place since at least 2000, according to the report. The sergeant also said lieutenants, commanders and deputy chiefs knew of the practice.

One commander interviewed by Ferguson's investigators denied knowing about officers parking illegally near City Hall, but the report said he "brazenly" downplayed the issue by saying he didn't think it was a big deal to give someone he knew his placard to park in the Central District station lot to attend a Bears game. "Hundreds of people" park in that lot to attend Bears game, he told Ferguson's investigators.

Ferguson's office recommended that the Police Department seek to discipline any officers who violate the 2018 directive.

 

In response, the department said it has reserved parking at police stations for only on-duty officers. But Ferguson's office cautioned that if police don't patrol their own station lots, officers and civilian department employees "may be able to park without detection."

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