Arresting Tales

So long, it's been good to know you: Arresting Tales signs off

Well, folks, it's been grand, but now it's over.


I was recently promoted to the rank of watch commander.  After nearly 9 years of working in plainclothes, supervising a small number of detectives, I'm back in uniform and running a patrol shift.  Cops reading this will immediately think "uh-oh", and conjecture on how big of a tool I'll become as a result of the promotion.  Guys, I promise to only use my powers for good.


My soul patch is shaved off, my sideburns are trimmed back, and my hair is cut to a decent length.  My uniform fits, and according to my bride I look darn good in it.  It promises to be a blast, but the new schedule and new responsibilities mean that something's got to give.


That something is this blog.  


When I started Arresting Tales I wanted to tell some stories, give people a few laughs, and hopefully offer some insight into what the job of policing is like.  I hope I succeeded in that, and I hope you've enjoyed it.  There are still things I'd like to talk about, but it it's time to bring this particular blogging adventure to an end.


First, thank you to everyone who's stopped by here and taken the time to comment.  I'd especially like to thank everyone who disagreed with me and took the time to say so, and who challenged me when you thought I was wrong.  I am alarmed by the extent to which we tend to consume news and opinion that confirms our existing beliefs and prejudices.  We don't learn anything when we only talk to people we agree with.  I've always believed that we're better off engaging and debating than we are attempting to silence or ignore those with whom we disagree.


Thank you Amy Guth, for launching this deal with a single tweet, and teaching me to love the Twitter.


Thank you Bill Adee, Tracy Samantha Schmidt, Fernando Diaz, Jimmy Greenfield, and all the bloggers at ChicagoNow.  Being one of the first 20 or so blogs on here was a humbling and exciting experience. 


Thanks to Alex Quigley, Greg Jarrett and the fine people at WGN Radio for allowing me to spout off on the air.


Thanks Mac, and thanks John.  You poor bastards have probably had to listen to more of my bullsh*t than anyone other than my family.


Thanks most of all to my saintly bride and my long-suffering daughters.  My bride's doubts about my returning to the "3 to 3" shift are outweighed by her relief at no longer being a blog widow.


I'll still be around on Twitter, and anyone who needs to, knows where to find me.


Thanks again.  In the words of Woody Guthrie--so long, it's been good to know you.


Joe the Cop

Happy Thanksgiving! Don't burn your garage down with a turkey fryer

Happy Thanksgiving! 

I'd like to thank everyone who has stopped by, and especially those of you who've taken the time to comment here.  I've learned a lot, and I really enjoy our exchanges.

I got a lot to be thankful for.  Sure, there's all the usual stuff you're supposed to be thankful for if you've got it--a beautiful and supportive family, health, a job, a roof over my head.  What I'm talking about is being thankful for having a job that allows me to do some good occasionally.  It doesn't happen much, but when it does it's a blessing.  To me, being called to do work that others find difficult, dangerous or unpleasant is a gift, and I'm thankful for it.  I've been honored to work with good men and women, and there's nothing so inspiring as watching people rise to the occasion and do the shitty jobs that no one else wants to do.

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Mugshot of the week: dented head edition


I don't know the name of the man pictured below.  This unnamed Floridian was arrested on November 9 for soliciting a prostitute according to the Miami New Times.  The police report, in the space labeled "unique physical features" states simply "half a head".  Here's what they meant:



I like the way how in that front mugshot he's all smiley, like, "hey, check me out with my dented head y'all".  Then, in the profile shot, he's all eyes closed and nonchalant.

So far I can't find anything else on this fascinating character, but as soon as I do I'll let you know.  Medical doctors and experts in human anatomy, feel free to comment and let me know exactly how someone ends up like this, and is still walking around.

Crime reporting: vibrator-related arrests and crazy southern crime

Sometimes a blog post just practically writes itself.

A few days ago I wrote about a lady from Gurnee who was arrested after allegedly attacking a police officer with a "clear, rigid, feminine pleasure device."  I gently chided the officer involved for not being more specific in his language.

Yesterday's Naperville TribLocal brings another example.  Evidently Naperville PD officers also feel compelled to haul out the euphemisms when confronted with sex toys. 

Vicki Myers.jpg
When an officer observed 44-year-old Vicki Myers inside a van, nude from the waist up, in a motel parking lot, he investigated:

...Myers, who told police she was staying at the hotel in the 1600 block of Diehl Road in Naperville, initially claimed to be changing in the vehicle. Further investigation found otherwise, as the officer located items described as "adult items that were used for self-pleasuring" inside the car, according to a police report.

Oh, the officer also found a loaded semi-auto pistol, which is what Ms. Myers got arrested for. 

Seriously, though, "adult items that were used for self-pleasuring"!?  I feel bad for Ms. Myers--it's never a good time in your life when you find yourself living in a motel with your kids.  Especially on those occasions when you've got an itch that needs scratching.

Thanks to sites like The Smoking Gun and news aggregators like Fark and, I read a lot of crime reporting from outside the Chicago area.  While Florida has, without a doubt, the best crime reporting in the nation, the rest of the American south is not far behind.  There are certain indicators that let you know you're reading southern crime reporting: references to motorized scooters, strip clubs, and over-the-top religious behavior to name a few. 

When I read the lead to this next story, I knew instantly that it occurred somewhere south of the Mason-Dixon line:

A man and woman are charged with stealing a motorized shopping cart from Wal-Mart and driving it to and from a neighboring strip club early Monday morning.

Billie Joe Stevenson.jpg
Jonathan Lee Misner.jpg
According to reports, Billie Jo Stevenson and Jonathan Lee Misner took turns riding the scooter to and from the strip club, while the other walked alongside. 

Alcohol was involved. 

Upon reading the full article I confirmed that the story originated in Wild, Wonderful West Virginia. 

In the mid-1970's Chicagoan Steve Goodman wrote a song for David Allen Coe titled "You Never Even Called Me By My Name".  Goodman claimed it was the perfect country-western song; Coe challenged Goodman that it was not, because it lacked any reference to mama, trains, trucks, prison or getting drunk.  Goodman responded by adding a final verse:

Well, I was drunk the day my ma got out of prison
And I went to pick her up in the rain
But before I could get to the station in my pickup truck
She got runned over by a damned old train
I think David Allen Coe's observation needs updating.  The modern "perfect country-western song" would still contain a reference to getting drunk; it would also need to mention WalMart, motorized scooters, strip clubs, tattoos and maybe the Waffle House.

In the words of the late Phil Harris, "and that's what I like about the South".  Feel free to substitute Phil's list of delicious southern foods with your own rhymes about gunplay, motorized scooters, oxycontin and Bible-thumping.

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Mark Siebenmorgen: mugshot of the week. And a vibrator attack.

Meet Mark Siebenmorgen of Portland, Oregon:


Photo from

Mr. Siebenmorgen is the Arresting Tales Mugshot of the Week.

Siebenmorgen was arrested after doing his best Ernest T. Bass impersonation all over the town of Milwaukie by jumping on cars and throwing rocks.  He was booked into the Clackamas County Jail on charges of criminal mischief, assault and menacing.

Siebenmorgen joins past Mugshot of the Week winners Robert Prosser and Tammie Sue Benson-Whitehead.

In local news, the Gurnee Police Department apparently has difficulty using the words "vibrator", "dildo" or "sex toy" in a police report.  Instead they wrote that a woman identified as Carolee Bildsten threatened a police officer with a "clear, rigid, feminine pleasure device".   Alcohol was involved.

I strongly believe that police officers should use precise language when writing reports.  "Clear, rigid, feminine pleasure device" is just too vague for my liking.  What, exactly, was the nature of the threat faced by the officer?

(**Note: the following links may be considered NSFW, but are included strictly to illustrate a point)

Was Ms. Bildsten brandishing a Candy Cane or an Icicles Swirl model?  Maybe the Chicago Pyrex? That glass could cause a lot of damage and would be nothing to laugh at!  If, however, she was merely waving around a cheap plastic vibrator (with or without batteries) the threat level would not be nearly as high.  The officer should just be grateful she wasn't swinging a Blue King Pleasure Scepter, that's all I can say.  Hopefully his imprecise language won't be a factor when this goes to court.     

Police work: the naked truth

Here's something they don't tell you when you attend your orientation to become a police officer:

You're going to be seeing a lot of naked people, and it's not going to be pretty

It's a truism in law enforcement, as in life, that the people you are most likely to see naked are usually the people you least want to see naked.  Outside of strip clubs (and sometimes even there) naked people generally fall into some combination of three categories: scary, pathetic or hilarious.

Gallery sneak peek (8 images):

View the gallery...
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Chicago's crime rate goes down: can cops take credit?

The short answer to that question is...probably not.

According to the Chicago Police Department, violent and property crime rates have fallen for 22 consecutive months.  It also looks like Chicago's murder rate has decreased:

There were nine less murders compared to the same time last year, which helped lead to a 2.3 percent drop compared to last year's numbers. There were 379 murders reported in Chicago through the end of October -- lower than figures reported in 2007 for the same time frame -- which ended with the lowest total number of murders since 1965, police said.

This is good news.  Ironically, though, public perception of crime remains higher than statistics would support, thanks to 24-hour TV and internet news coverage.  Cops, who encounter criminals on a daily basis and feel like we're always arresting the same people, are also suspicious, but I'll be the first to admit our evidence is anecdotal and we often lack a broader view.  We're cynical bastards.

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Halloween safety tips for kids, with video: redux

I love blogging.  But...I'm also a career civil servant, and that means I have a healthy lazy streak.  What does that mean for you, the reader?  It means that, as much as I might have liked to come up with some good material for Halloween, I never got around to it.  So, because 22 years in law enforcement has taught me to "work smarter, not harder", I'm recycling the same public service announcement I used this time last year:

Halloween safety tips for kids, with helpful video

As you know, I'm a strong believer in public service, especially in the form of helpful public service announcements.  Halloween is just around the corner, so I thought it appropriate to pass on some Halloween safety information.

halloween safety.jpg

Every year we're reminded that sex offenders shouldn't give out candy, and the Cook County Sheriff's Department posts helpful safety tips for kids.  Those items are helpful, sure, but I have a few tips of my own:

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Cops and Complainants

Lately I've been thinking about how cops communicate with non-cops, and how those encounters can end well or badly.  Two things got me thinking about this.  The first was a party we attended last weekend, to which the police were called by an irate neighbor.  More on that later.

The second thing was an exchange I had with one of the nice people at NEMRT (North East Multi-Regional Training).

The party was a blast, and featured a fair amount of drinking and general whooping-it-up.  (No, it was not a cop party.)  The party got thrown at a beautiful first floor condo in Buena Park.

Some time around 11:30 a squad car pulled up in front and shined a spotlight in the front window. 

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Law Enforcement Quote of the Week: mummified remains edition

"If you drive around with a deceased person for 10 months, do you have mental issues? I'll leave that for the professionals to decide."

- Costa Mesa, CA Police Sgt. Ed Everett, commenting on the discovery of mummified 10-month-old human remains in the front passenger seat of a homeless woman's car

The driver of the auto has not been identified, but she is cooperating with police according to reports.  The state of the deceased (30 pounds of mummified remains) has made identification difficult.  The autopsy did not reveal any sign of trauma.  This story in the Orange County Register informs us that the car's driver did, at one point, place an open box of baking soda in the car to "kill some of the stench".  Sgt. Everett offered some explanation as to how the driver endured:

Everett said the driver appeared to have gotten somewhat used to the smell. He noted that her father was incontinent and had, on occasion, soiled the interior of the car. The driver also had sinus problems, making her less sensitive to the stench, he said.

I love police spokespersons.  It is a testament to their creativity that they are able to use such non-committal, passionless language to describe such truly unspeakable events.  A less adroit public information officer might have distributed a press release with a title like "MUMMIFIED STIFF CALLS SHOTGUN IN HOMELESS WOMAN'S CAR!"


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Brett Favre: sexting weenie-waver?

Little Brett Favre copy.jpg
Brett Favre, record-holding NFL quarterback of fabled longevity, is in the news for a different reason this week.  Sports website broke the news (actually, the "news" has been around for months in the form of widely-circulated rumors) that Favre has apparently sent several pics of "little Brett" via cell phone to a Jets sideline reporter named Jenn Sterger.  In a predictable development, a couple of other women working for the Jets have claimed that Favre also sent "lewd texts" to them.

It struck me that while Brett Favre--if he actually did this--may not be the first celebrity weenie-waver, he is certainly the first virtual celebrity weenie waver, having done his weenie-waving through the magic of digital communication. 

Sexual harassment lawyers could have a field day with this story since both Favre and Sterger worked for the same employer at the time.  As sleazy and embarrassing as this story night be, though, it's not much of a crime story at all.  Here in Illinois, the most Favre could be charged with is a violation of 720 ILCS 135/1-2, Harassment Through Electronic Communications.  However, for that to be the case, it would have to be established that Favre intended to offend or harass Ms. Sterger--and from everything I've read it seems that he was just trying to impress her.  That's a crime against good sense and good taste, but not a violation of any statute.

Now let's take a look at some other celebrity weenie-wavers.

Gallery sneak peek (7 images):

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Dialogue from a booking room

The place: a police booking room in Lake County, where Trent Lee, a parolee with 19 convictions, was charged with murder in the stabbing death of his girlfriend.

Cop: "Mr. Lee?"

Trent Lee: "Huh."

Cop: "Mr. Lee?  Sir?  Can you do me a favor?"

Trent Lee: "Huh."

Cop: "Can you please try to look more like a caricature of an evil villain when I take your mug photo?"

Trent Lee: "I'LL KILL YOU."

Cop: "That's the ticket.  Thanks."

Trent Lee.jpg

Todd Stroger aide Carla Oglesby gets pinched

In July I wrote about a character known as "Shorty Capone", a convicted felon, who received a no-bid contract from Cook County in the amount of $24,995.  He was awarded the contract by Carla Oglesby.  The contract was one of a series of so-called "24-9" contracts given out by Oglesby.  The contracts fell just under $25,000, which is the threshold for requiring approval by the Cook County Board.

It turns out that even in Cook County there are some limits to just how brazenly corrupt a public official can be.

On Monday afternoon Carla Oglesby was arrested, and has been charged with multiple felony counts of theft and official misconduct.  You can read more here.

Now, for your viewing pleasure, a brief video of Ms. Oglesby being perp-walked into Area 4:


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Tammie Sue Benson-Whitehead: Mugshot of the Week

Meet Tammie Sue Benson-Whitehead of Junction City, Oregon:


Photo from

Tammie Sue apparently migrated east to West Union, Iowa, where she was arrested for failing to register as a sex offender.

Failing to register as a sex offender.  My weekend gift to you: putting the image in your head of Tammie Sue doing, you stuff.

In the aftermath of last week's debacle I thought about a few different subjects  to ease back into blogging.  For a while I considered going with a series of posts about DARE puppet shows, CAPS meeting highlights and heartwarming stories about police dogs before settling on Tammie Sue.  After all--what better way put the acrid taste of controversy behind me than by publicly mocking the subject of an arrest photo?

If anyone else has ideas about inoffensive, non-controversial topics I can address in this here blog, please feel free to email them to me.

September 29: Today in criminal justice history

Jerry Lee Lewis finger.jpg
On today's date in 1976, rockabilly star Jerry Lee Lewis celebrated his 41st birthday. 

At some point during the festivities, Jerry Lee shot his bassist, Butch Owens, in the chest with a .357 handgun.  Owens survived. 
Jerry Lee did not get arrested.

There are different accounts as to how this happened, including one in which Jerry Lee was trying to open a soda bottle. 
Alcohol was involved. 

Footnote: a few weeks later, on November 22, Jerry Lee was arrested after showing up at Graceland, drunk, waving a pistol and demanding to see Elvis Presley.

Jerry Lee Lewis mugshot.jpg

Zsa Zsa mug shot.jpg
On today's date in 1989, Zsa Zsa Gabor was convicted of slapping Beverly Hills Police Officer Paul Kramer, driving without a license and possession of an open alcohol container. 

The surreal trial featured accusations by Gabor that police doctored the squad car video, a "barrage of conflicting and dubious testimony", and a staged fight in the courtroom between a Zsa Zsa impersonator and a man wearing a "Hang Zsa Zsa" tee shirt.

Gabor compared the experience to Nazi Germany and "communist Hungary", and expressed her displeasure with the jury after the verdict was announced:

"It was not my class of people, there was not a producer, a press agent, a director, an actor."

Please stand by

This is from the ChicagoNow staff blog:

Why we removed 2 Arresting Tales posts

please-stand-by 2.jpg

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Why cops love the media: CTA Red Line shooting coverage

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I am not a big fan of how the media covers police use-of-force incidents.

Today's news offers another prime example of how ignorance of police tactics and the reality of gunfighting, coupled with the mainstream media's "if it bleeds, it leads" mentality, fuels anti-police sentiment and reinforces a narrative in which bigoted cops routinely kill people of color.

Chicago Police officers shot and killed a man on a CTA Red Line train at the Garfield/55th stop yesterday.  According to initial reports, the man pointed a gun at officers during a struggle.

Today we have these headlines:

Witnesses dispute police account of fatal CTA shooting  from Chicago Breaking News, and

Witnesses Contradict Police Account of Fatal Shooting  from NBC Chicago.

Uh-oh.  Could it be that the police are engaged in a cover-up?  That trigger-happy cops shot down some unfortunate young man?  Let's see what these "witnesses" have to say.

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Joe the Cop on ChicagoNow Radio Saturday, September 18

WGN Chicago Now Radio.jpg

Looks like yours truly will be going on ChicagoNow Radio tomorrow morning with Alex Quigley. I'll be on at 10am.  We might talk about Chicago police protests, marijuana legalization or homicidal hillbillies.  You never know.

You can listen at 720 on your AM dial, or you can click here and listen through the magic of the internets.

Jonathan Lee Riches, "Lawsuit Zeus", gets sued

Meet Jonathan Lee Riches, Federal Bureau of Prisons register # 40948-018:

Jonathan Lee Riches, filer of more than 1,000 lawsuits

Riches is serving a sentence for wire fraud, and is scheduled to be released in March, 2012. He was featured here in a piece I wrote about frivolous prison lawsuits:

Jailbird Dungeons & Dragons, and other bizarre prison lawsuits

Mr. Riches, an inmate in Kentucky, is widely considered to be the most litigious man in the world.  He has filed over 3,800 lawsuits while incarcerated.  Yes, you read that correctly: 3,800 lawsuits, all filed pro se while in prison.  Riches has referred to himself as "Lawsuit Zeus"; others have referred to him as "the Patrick Ewing of Suing"--which hurt his feelings, according to a lawsuit that he subsequently filed against the Guinness Book of World Records in 2009, claiming

"These phrases (i.e. "Patrick Ewing of Suing," "Johnny Sue-nami," etc ...) hurt my feelings and violate my civil rights. I've filed so many law suits with my pen and right hand that I got arthritis in my fingers, numbness in my wrists, crooked fingers, I got bags under my eyes for sleepless nights suing the world..."
He has sued persons both living and dead, famous and not-so famous, including George W. Bush, Somali pirates, the makers of the video game Grand Theft Auto, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Martha Stewart.  Recently he filed a suit against Lady Gaga and Nadya Suleman  ("Octomom") for stealing the idea for the song "Poker Face" from him:

I received $52,000 at a Kroger grocery store Western Union. I then spent my money lavishly around Las Vegas. I was at a poker table where Stefani Germanotta sat next to me and asked "Excuse me, are those Bugle Boy jeans your [sic] wearing." I did not respond then Germanotta told me she knew me from being a Internet celebrity all over Google and Wikipedia. Google "Jonathan Lee Riches." She said she heard about me having the Guinness Book of World Records for suing the most people in the history of mankind and then she asked for my autograph on her breast. I said "Look lady, can't you see I got a poker face, I'm trying to concentrate" she then said "Poker face, I'm going to use that in a song of mine one day."

Riches is once again in the news because, in an unbelievably poetic development, he is being sued:

Federal prosecutors who say they have had enough of the frivolous filings have filed a lawsuit of their own asking a judge to take unusual action to stop Jonathan Lee Riches. 
Vexed by his filing of as many as 4 handwritten suits per day, US Attorneys ask the court  " allow the federal Bureau of Prisons to screen Riches' outgoing mail or to designate a federal court employee to determine if the legal filings are frivolous and stop the mail from being sent."

Marijuana--time to legalize it


*Note: Floyd, pictured above, is only slightly representative of your average California pot smoker.

Voters in California will have the opportunity in November to vote on a ballot referendum to legalize marijuana.  The measure is known as Proposition 19, the "Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010."

I've had some fun in this blog making fun of potheads and their antics.  I coined the phrase "pothead clown car" and I've talked about home-based dope dealers smoking themselves retarded.  That being said, I think it's about time that this nation takes a serious look at legalizing marijuana.  I'm not the only cop who thinks so, either.

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CPD rank and file protest against Superintendent Weis

Weis protest.jpg

Nancy Stone, Chicago Tribune

Hundreds of Chicago Police Department officers gathered outside CPD headquarters today to call for the resignation of Superintendent Weis.  Officers cited manpower shortages, damaged morale and poor leadership.

The demonstration follows controversy over Weis' August meeting with Chicago street gang leaders and the ongoing fallout from a blog post written by CPD Lt. John Andrews.  The post by Andrews appeared on his personal blog in July; in it he excoriated the the leadership of the Chicago Police Department and the political leadership of Chicago, referring to a "circle of corruption".  Here's a taste:

Contributing factors that have led to the paralysis of the CPD:

• Decimation of existing top-tier leadership by incoming Superintendent
• Lack of leadership / Administrative incompetence
• Overt political corruption within the ranks
• Reductions in field strength levels that have left personnel in dangerous working conditions
• Reductions in field strength levels that have severely limited police effectiveness at protecting life and property or maintaining order on Chicago streets.

Based on the above and other contributing factors, the rank and file of the Chicago Police Department do not have confidence in their leadership. They perceive a number of current "bosses" as incompetent, politically corrupt, or both - beginning with the mayor and police superintendent. (emphasis mine)
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September 15: Today in criminal justice history

On today's date in 1998, Artis Leon Ivey Jr., better known as Coolio, was arrested in Lawndale, California.  Mr. Ivey was stopped after driving a Hummer on the wrong side of the street, and the stop revealed that he was driving on an expired license.  He also had a loaded 9mm handgun and some weed, which he claimed had been left by "a friend" who had borrowed the car.  That same week saw the arrest of Ol' Dirty Bastard after he got in a beef with House of Blues staff. 

In 1972, the following Watergate conspirators were indicted: James W. McCord, Frank Sturgis, Bernard Barker, Eugenio Martinez, Virgilio Gonzalez, E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy.  A few weeks later Richard Nixon would be re-elected by a landslide, only to resign from office on August 9, 1974.  Eventually 26 Nixon staff members or associates would be convicted or plead guilty.

In 1996, dimwitted serial-killer Ottis (yes, that's the correct spelling) Toole died in prison of cirrhosis.  Toole, along with murder partner and lover Henry Lee Lucas, claimed to have murdered hundreds of victims across the country in the late 70's and early 80's.  Toole confessed to the 1981 murder Adam Walsh, and then recanted.  He was was officially named as the murderer of Adam Walsh posthumously, in 2008.

Gallery sneak peek (10 images):

View the gallery...

CTA crime on the increase

Two stories caught my attention this morning, both relating to an increase in reported crime on the CTA.

First, the CTA Tattler reports that pickpocket thefts are up on both trains and buses, with pickpocket thefts on buses increasing by 54%.  He also makes a plea for passengers to do their part by remaining alert and awake while traveling on the CTA, in order to avoid having your pants pocket sliced open and your wallet removed.

It turns out that pickpockets aren't the only crime issue facing the CTA, but are part of an overall increase in crime.   According to figures obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times and the Better Government Association:

Thefts and robberies have risen dramatically on CTA buses, trains and L platforms in the last four years -- and are on the rise again this year...

The number of crimes on the CTA has risen each of the last four years -- from 1,538 in 2006 to 1,942 in 2009, Chicago Police Department data show.

Most troublesome is the increase in robberies, from 246 in 2006 to 435 in 2009.  Currently the CTA is on track to hit 500 robberies in 2010.  A robbery is a theft committed by using or threatening to use force, it's an armed robbery if a weapon is used, and it's an aggravated robbery if the offender implies or indicates that he has a weapon.  Presumably all types of robberies are included in the figures appearing in the Sun-Times story

Another thing to remember is that these figures represent only reported crimes--the number of crimes committed is always significantly higher than the number of crimes reported.

There are a couple of factors driving the increase.  One, mentioned by a CTA spokesperson in the article, is the increase in thefts of portable electronic devices like smart phones and iPads.  Many people are so absorbed in their virtual digital cocoon that they forget that they are out in public, in a city, and they don't take basic steps to protect themselves and their property. 

Victims will sit poking away on a $400 iPad, oblivious to shifty-looking characters lurking nearby, and then express shock when they're robbed.  These same people wouldn't dream of sitting on an El car with four crisp $100 bills held out in front of them, but that's essentially what they're doing by not stowing their high-end electronics while on the CTA.

A second factor driving the increase is lack of police presence.  The city and the CTA can tout cameras all they want, but cameras do not deter crime--the presence of uniformed officers does.  Even when the cameras work, they're recorded over within days.  Given the length of time it takes for a detective to follow up on a theft--if it's followed up on at all, which is another manpower issue--the likelihood of a detective even asking for video before it's been recorded over is slim.

The CTA Tattler has the best advice: "...keep your guard up wherever you are riding."

Kentucky trailer park murders: the intractable nature of poverty and crime

I was talking with my mom this morning about the recent murders at a trailer park in eastern Kentucky.  Mom was born in Ashland, Kentucky, about 100 miles north of Jackson, where the shooting occurred.  When I mentioned the Breathitt County Coroner, mom let out an "oh", followed by "bloody Breathitt."

Breathitt cartoon.jpg

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Murder at the trailer park: law enforcement quote of the week

Years ago I worked with a guy who had this saying: "they're only stereotypes because they're true."  Taken literally he was wrong, of course, but there is something to the saying.  

Example: when I mention the words "trailer park" and "eastern Kentucky" I'm sure you have no problem pulling a specific image to mind.  It may look something like this:
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September 11 changed the job of policing

Yesterday our honor guard participated in a 9/11 memorial service at the local high school.  The ceremony went smoothly, everyone stayed in step, and I managed to give the commands without my voice breaking, or marching the detail into oncoming traffic.

After the service a few of us stood around talking.  Inevitably a few "where were you when" stories got told, but more of the conversation focused on the weeks and months after 9/11, and on how much the job of policing has changed since then.  As I've said before, the months after 9/11 were the best time in this nation's history to be a police officer, but with all that gratitude and respect came a host of new responsibilities and expectations. 

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Weenie-Waver Wednesday: Bad cop edition

I'm always on the lookout for patterns, and I found an interesting one this week--errant cops getting their freak on in public.  Not only that, but both stories originate in eastern Tennessee.

First, I'd like you to meet former Newport police sergeant David R. Smith:

David Smith.JPG

Photo from

Smith was observed performing "a lewd act" while inside his squad car, on duty, parked outside a tanning salon.  That set off alarms right there, since tanning salons are well-known magnets for a variety of criminals and perverts.  To make matters worse, his behavior was observed by multiple witnesses.  His department fired him in August following an internal investigation, and he was recently indicted and arrested.  According to the indictment, he "did unlawfully, knowingly and intentionally engage in masturbation in a public place".

I wonder what he's planning for a defense.

Next we move on to the case of former Washington County Sheriff's deputies Chris Adkins and Scarlett Dennison:

Adkins and Dennison.jpg

Photo from

Adkins and Dennison were recently terminated as a result of citations they received in July, while off-duty at a US Forest Service campground.  They already paid $250 fines, but the Washington County Sheriff found that their conduct was unbecoming of officers, and violated the department's general orders.  And what was that conduct?  They got drunk, and naked, in a public campground.  That doesn't sound so bad, actually.  Oh, wait.  There was a third man present, who also engaged in sexual activity, and Adkins' 2-year-old son was asleep in a nearby tent.

This news account suggests that, while Adkins, Dennison and their third partner might have a problem with judgment, exhibitionism and demon alcohol, the forest ranger and deputy who found them might have a little bit of an issue with voyeurism:

According to the federal citations charging the three, the forest ranger saw the three at a camp site drinking alcohol in the open and then engaging in sex.

No one has been able to say how long U.S. Forest Service Officer Scott Cairnes and Deputy Derek Hamm stood watching the trio, but in Cairnes' report he wrote that he saw Dennison and Adkins engage in three sex acts and then Adkins and Walsh began to fondle Dennison.

Cairnes and Hamm made their presence known after the campers were startled by a camper at another site closing a truck door and the three stopped what they were doing.

All calls to the U.S Forest Service about the incident were directed to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Greeneville. Assistant U.S. Attorney Helen Smith said she did not know how long the officers stood watching.

Long enough, evidently.  One wonders what the type and duration of the "three sex acts" were.

Did the Chicago Police Department hire America's first female cop?

Marie Owens.jpg

According to retired federal agent and history buff Rick Barrett, the answer is yes

For years, U.S. historians have been at odds over the identity of America's first female cop. Was it Alice Stebbins Wells of the Los Angeles Police Department, who petitioned the city to get women on the force? Or Lola G. Baldwin of Portland, Ore., who crusaded for young, single working women and sought to weed out corruption in the city?

Now, a retired federal drug-enforcement agent and history buff from Chicago has come forward with what he says is unequivocal proof that the title actually belongs to Marie Owens, a tall, steely woman who specialized in enforcing the Windy City's child-labour and mandatory-education laws -- and who hailed from Canada.

Rick Barrett says he has spent the last three years combing through Chicago city and Illinois state records, newspaper articles and genealogy documents, to chart the life story of Owens, who grew up in Ottawa, Ont., and then made her way to Chicago where she became a detective sergeant in 1891 -- predating Wells and Baldwin by at least 15 years.

Owens retired in 1923 and died four years later.  Ironically, Owens was the subject of several news accounts while she was still serving, with one newspaper proclaiming her "the only woman police sergeant in the world".  Some time after her death, a historian confused her with a police widow by the same name, and her status as the nation's first female officer was forgotten.

You can read more about Marie Owens here and here.

Ruger the German Shepherd needs a home

One of the best things about having a blog is being able to publicize good causes.  I've done it in the past for the Children's Advocacy Center, CPD Officer Densey Cole and St. Baldrick's Foundation.  Today I want to tell you about a dog who needs a home, and about the organization that's trying to find one for him.

Meet Ruger:

Ruger dog.jpg

Ruger needs a home

Continue reading...

Weis' meeting offends gang leaders, they plan press conference

Unbelievable.  Just yesterday I talked about the history of "sitting down" with gang leaders in Chicago, and I said this:

There was another wave of misguided efforts to "work with" gangs in the early 1990's.  Some of us remember the heralded "gang truce" of 1992-1993.  That was around the same time that Larry Hoover announced (from prison) that the "GD" in "Gangster Disciple" would instead stand for "Growth and Development"...

Plenty of people bought into the scam: Hoover orchestrated a public relations effort to get himself paroled, and college professors spoke on his behalf.  The media gave plenty of coverage to efforts by characters like Wallace "Gator" Bradley, who helped organize a "National Gang Peace Summit" in Chicago in November 1993.  High-profile leaders like Rev. Jesse Jackson, Benjamin Chavis and Rev. Louis Farrakhan attended; Rev. Jackson told the assembled gang members that they represented "the new frontier of the civil rights struggle."

The violence and killing never stopped.

I worry that Chicagoans have forgotten what a pointless exercise talking and "sitting down" with gang leaders is; my fears are confirmed as I see that we're heading down that same stupid path again thanks to Superintendent Weis' August 17 meeting. 

Witness this post in ChicagoNow's And the Ordinary People Said blog:

The "Movement" Chicago "Gang" Leaders Press Conference Thursday, September 2, Against Chicago Police Chief Jody Weis!

Blogger/activist Mark Allen characterizes the meeting as an "ambush" of "alleged" gang leaders.  He drags out Wallace "Gator" Bradley as a peacemaker, and then posts a copy of a press release from some group calling itself "Tha Movement".  The press release is signed at the bottom by a character named Jim Allen who is the "Free and Accepted Almighty Minister, Vice Lords Nation."  Mr. Miller sees Weis' plans as "nothing but a ploy for the Irish Mafia to gain back control of Chicago's Underworld!"

The absurdity of street gang members acting as aggrieved parties, professing they want to "stop the violence", while quoting the US Constitution, boggles the mind.

At this point, why shouldn't the Vice Lords, or any other street gang, hold a press conference?  They've been put front and center thanks to Weis' recent meeting, or summit, or ultimatum delivery or whatever it was.  They have been made equal partners, entitled to their share of the public policy stage.  Now all that's left is to cue up the calliope music and wait for the circus to start.

*Note: according to "Tha Movement" you may disregard anything I have to say on this topic.  As a cop with an Irish last name, I am part of what "Tha Movement" refers to on their website as the "Irish Mafia and their Hamberg Athletic Association children."

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