Cook County Forest Preserves officials promise changes as officer in video showing woman being harassed resigns

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Cook County Forest Preserves officials are promising action after a disturbing video showing a woman being harassed over her Puerto Rican flag T-shirt. (WLS)

Cook County Forest Preserves officials are promising action after a disturbing video showing a woman being harassed over her Puerto Rican flag T-shirt.

The forest preserve officer seen in the background of the video and not coming to her aid resigned Wednesday.

Forest preserve officials said they are not going to sweep this under the rug and they plan to use this case and video as a learning tool going forward.

The officer, identified by authorities as Patrick Connor, resigned Wednesday and was supposed to face a disciplinary hearing Thursday.

Officer Connor was caught on camera last month, seemingly standing by as another man scolded Mia Irizarry for wearing a Puerto Rico flag T-shirt.

She had appealed to Officer Connor for help, but he appears to not respond.

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Mia Irizarry took this video of a man she says harassed her for wearing a shirt with the Puerto Rican flag, saying it was un-American.



Timothy Trybus, 62, was eventually arrested and charged with a misdemeanor, but prosecutors are considering hate crime charges.

Despite Connor's resignation, forest preserve officials say their work is just beginning.

"We are looking at ways to improve all aspects of employee training," said Cook County Forest Preserves General Superintendent Arnold Randall. Certainly, we have ongoing diversity training. In fact, the officer in question went through this training just about a year ago, but we want to take another look at how this training can be improved, not just for officers but for all of our staff. We will treat this as a learning opportunity."

Officials promised they will take further steps, such as seeking advice from community leaders, to see that this never happens again and that they have apologized to Mia Irizarry.

Officer Connor's actions came under intense fire based on the video. There were multiple calls for his dismissal from elected officials.

Forest preserves officials said the officer should have stepped in to do something earlier. Meanwhile an investigation into the incident continues despite the officer's resignation.

Forest preserves officials said they want the public to know that this is not who they are.

Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle released a statement Thursday saying, "Under the leadership of General Superintendent Arnold Randall and his team, the Forest Preserves of Cook County have become a safe, welcoming place of exploration, recreation and leisure for everyone. The appalling incident of June 14 and the inaction of one former member of the Forest Preserves Police should not diminish the greatness of the Preserves, nor dissuade people from enjoying our 70,000 acres of nature and beauty. As Arnold said today, we recommit ourselves to ensuring our guests have a safe and pleasurable experience in the Preserves, and we will continue working with our dedicated staff to meet our obligations in this regard."
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