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Cop-Impersonating Teen With Dreams Of Joining The Force Arrested Again

By Rachel Cromidas in News on May 5, 2015 6:30PM

Vincent Richardson, Cook County Sheriff's Department Handout Photo.

A young man with a habit of impersonating a cop—a felony offense—has allegedly been caught again.

Vincent Richardson, 21, has been arrested at least three times on felony charges of impersonating a police officer since 2009, when he was first accused of moonlighting as a cop so convincingly that officers at a Grand Crossing police district assigned him a partner and dispatched him in a squad car for the better part of a day.

Richardson was accused of impersonating a police officer again in 2013 after he reportedly tried to buy a police uniform at a Northwest Side shop and the owner Googled his name.

Richardson is now facing similar charges for a third time, after being caught wearing a bulletproof vest and holding a replica of a handgun alongside another man, Dantrell Moore, 21, who was carrying a stun gun and also wearing a bulletproof vest Friday. Both men are being held in the Cook County Jail on $500,000 bail. Richardson was just released from a stint in prison in December after serving time for a parole violation.

But a Chicago Tribune profile on Richardson portrays him as less of a career criminal and rather a teen whose childhood dream of becoming a police officer has gone tragically amiss.

"I feel like honestly that I was put on Earth to make my community safer, and I saw an opportunity and I feel like that was my destiny," said Richardson, who as a kid attended the police department's Explorers program in Englewood, which was meant to get children interested in law enforcement:

"It wasn't like I felt like I was doing something bad. It's like I'm around these guys all the time, so it was just a regular feeling like, 'Where's the roll call room at?'"

When word of Richardson’s 2009 offense got around, then-mayor Richard M. Daley was incensed. Some said the oversight that allowed Richardson, then an eighth grader at a height of 5’3”, to spend five hours patrolling the street and even participate in an arrest, reflected poorly on the leadership of former superintendent Jody Weis and the overall state of the department.

Juvenile Judge Andrew Berman sentenced Richardson to probation in that first case, allowing him to avoid a juvenile correctional facility because he didn't have a violent record and seemed to have potential. But Richardson violated his home confinement and was ultimately sent to the facility anyway.

Among the most interesting points in the Tribune article is an interview with a pediatric psychologist who speculated on Richardson's murky motivations for allegedly continuing to carry out police impersonations even after being caught. Richardson's actions could stem from the desire to make himself appear more successful by adopting a role outside of his day-to-day life, according to the psychologist.

Richardson has said he was drawn to police work since his days in the Explorers program because of the sense of camaraderie and teamwork evinced by his local beat cops. Though his record may prevent him from ever fulfilling his dream, Richardson has said he would like to apply his knack for the profession to being a personal bodyguard.