CPD superintendent grilled over 14-year-old fake cop

Feb. 9, 2009
Poor security measures cited for allowing teenager to work as an officer

A 14-year-old police impersonator who scammed his way onto the streets for five hours entered the Grand Crossing station through a back door propped open to give officers easy access, Police Supt. Jody Weis disclosed Friday.

During a two-hour return to the City Council hot seat, Weis was hard-pressed to explain how a teen pretender with no gun, no police ID and a bogus badge managed to sign out a police radio and stay out on patrol, unchallenged by a 40-year-old partner who had been on the job for two years.

The teen -- who did not write tickets, but did interact with "people on the streets" -- had tried and failed to enter another district station earlier that same day. Another police impersonator was arrested Friday at the Calumet District.

Calling the Jan. 24 incident "unforgivable" and "horribly embarrassing," Weis set a Feb. 23 deadline for the Internal Affairs Division to complete its report after reviewing surveillance tapes and conducting well over 100 interviews.

The investigation will include the police officer apparently responsible for snapping a picture of the handcuffed teen that ended up in the Chicago Sun-Times.

"You can't have a breach of security like this without someone being held accountable. . . . There will be discipline administered," Weis told the City Council's Police Committee.

In the meantime, the back door propped open at the 20-year-old station has been sealed shut with new locks installed this week and keys given to just a handful of supervisors. Back doors at other older districts are being staffed around-the-clock.

As the hearing was winding down, Police Committee Chairman Isaac Carothers (29th) confronted Weis about a previously undisclosed security breach.

In December, a laptop computer and, possibly a desktop computer were stolen from the Bureau of Professional Standards on the 5th floor of police headquarters at 35th and Michigan. That's down the hall from the superintendent's office.

It was not known what information, if any, was on the computers.

"It sounds like we've got a lot bigger problem than just a 14-year-old. That was your floor. Jeez," Carothers told Weis.

Weis was short on details, but said, "I don't believe it was a theft from an outside person. . . . It may have been an internal theft" -- either by an officer who works in the building or by an outside employee who has access.

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