Weis upset about boy impersonating officer

January 29, 2009 2:35:38 PM PST
Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis expressed outrage Thursday after a 14-year old boy was able to impersonate a police officer and spent hours on patrol.For Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis, this is personal. The man who has had to face the ire of Mayor Richard Daley and Chicago aldermen over the incident made it clear Thursday that he is embarrassed by what took place last Saturday. He said it was allowed to happen because police didn't do their jobs.

On Saturday, a 14-year-old boy in a Chicago Police uniform walked into the Grand Crossing Station on South Cottage Grove and ended up on traffic duty with another uniformed police officer. He signed out a police radio, and there are conflicting reports on whether he drove a squad car.

"The fact this incident occurred is unforgiveable," Weis said. "That an individual was able to impersonate a Chicago Police officer for an extended period of time is both angering and disturbing."

Weis said he thought it was a joke when he was informed of the incident. But, because he was there in 1994 when a police impersonator in Washington, D.C., killed two FBI agents -- his friends -- after gaining entry to a police station, he is upset now.

"We are fortunate that this young man had no evil in his heart, he simply wanted to be a police officer, that's what he wanted to do. He went about it all the wrong way," said Weis, "but he wasn't out here to hurt anybody, but what if it wasn't that person? And when have a security breach, we put the public at risk and we put our officers at risk, and that cannot happen again."

Internal Affairs is reviewing watch command logs, video of the afternoon roll call that day, and interviewing all police staff who would or should have come into contact with the boy and known something wasn't right.

At stores that sell police uniforms, a CPD memo is on display reminding customers proper police identification must be shown when making purchases of restricted items.

"Someone shouldn't be insulted if they are asked for their ID," said Mark Bovit, Advance Uniform. "We are all in this together, and it is a way to keep it safe, so if we get a directive sent to us by the police department we will make sure our staff is aware of it and usually post it."

The police superintendent has called in the United States Secret Service to assess all CPD security arrangements in their facilities.

Police say the officer who patrolled with the youth had checked in, according to police procedure, with the watch commander on an irregular shift -- starting at 2 p.m., not 3 p.m., as part of the regular shift change. Thus, that officer was already working when the roll call was conducted. How the youth got in that squad car and carried on his escapade is a big part of the investigation.