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Black Stereotypes, Bumbling Cop Images Litter North Chicago Police Academy Handout

By Chuck Sudo in News on Feb 25, 2013 9:40PM

2013_2_25_northchicagopolicepatch.jpg The North Chicago Police Department displayed bad judgment, at the very least, by publishing a handout for its citizen police academy students littered with images of black stereotypes, images of bumbling cops like The Andy Griffith Show’s Barney Fife and other off-putting images.

The handout features Tyrone Biggums, the crackhead character from Chappelle’s Show, a mug shot of a black man with bug eyes, a photo of a smiling black man in an orange prison jumpsuit surrounded by cops, Tom Cruise’s character in A Few Good Men, Lindsay Lohan, Judge Judy, fat cops and even Indiana University men’s basketball coach Tom Crean.

The brochure is yet another public relations disaster for the North Chicago Police Department, which has been beset by allegations of racial profiling and police brutality. Last March, Lake County prosecutors declined to charge three police officers in the death of a man who was beaten during an arrest, arguing the officers acted “reasonably and responsibly.” (North Chicago and its police department are defendants in a federal wrongful death lawsuit over Darrin “Dagwood” Hanna’s death.) Former North Chicago police officer David Bickham was charged last July of murdering his girlfriend in River Forest. W. Michael Hosking quit as interim police chief in January 2012, six days into his stint. Hosking had famous last words as to why he resigned: “I don’t think North Chicago is ready for me, nor am I ready for North Chicago.”

Current North Chicago Police Chief James Jackson said the brochure was produced by an African American officer and wasn’t authorized for distribution. “We should have caught it,” he said. (Ya think?) Lake County State’s Attorney Mike Nerheim, who was pictured opposite Cruise in the handout, told the Lake County News Sun:

“Unprofessional is probably the nicest way to put it,” Nerheim said. “It was obviously done without my knowledge and consent. I definitely see how it could be offensive to people. It’s not something that should be coming out of the police department.”

Activists like North Chicago resident Ralph Peterson believe that’s an understatement and say it’s the latest example of questionable judgment by the department. Lake County NAACP Branch president Jennifer Witherspoon said “someone needs to be held accountable” for the handout’s distribution.

“This is not who we are. We are doctors and lawyers. I don’t understand why this wasn’t reviewed by the chief or mayor before it went out.”