Some of the city’s most notorious street gangs are infiltrating the police department, and officials can’t do much about it.
Until gang members in blue break a law, they are protected by their union contract and the right to associate with whomever they please.
In the last three years, at least 15 police officers have been charged with crimes, forced to resign or investigated for membership in a street gang, the Chicago Sun-Times said in today’s edition.
Seven officers in one police district are under investigation for gang ties, the paper reported.
“We can’t deny we have individuals who are members, fraternize or associate with street gangs,” said Police Superintendent Matt Rodriguez. “Why would they not do the same things organized crime always did, such as infiltrate the police? If the mob bought judges, politicians and policemen, why do we think the gangs can’t do it?”
Rodriguez has established a “Corruption Hotline” for officers to report police gang members. But union rules and constitutional protections make it difficult to fire gang-affiliated officers unless they are caught committing a crime, he said.
Since a 1992 labor agreement between the union and the force, officers can’t be dismissed for merely associating with “questionable characters.”
However, some officers have been blatant about their gang links in recent years.
Reginald Lee, a former officer, is in prison for attempting to sell two pounds of cocaine to undercover detectives last year. Lee, 34, told investigators he was a member of the Gangster Disciples, one of Chicago’s most prominent gangs, and would always be one.
Deputy Superintendent Michael W. Hoke, head of internal affairs, said the officers with ties to gangs are hindering police work.
“They come in and they learn our investigative techniques, can spot undercover cops, know how we do things,” Hoke said. “Yes, we’re concerned about that.”