CPD investigates use of racial slur on police radio channel

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The I-Team has the recordings of those offensive racial statements. They were heard Sunday morning over Chicago police radios.

But on Monday night, city officials told the I-Team the racial slurs didn't originate from the 911 center, but rather from non-police department radios. That would mean somebody was able to infiltrate the Chicago police radio system.

Dispatcher: "It's too early to be bothering you. Good morning."
Officer: "How many more things you have?"

It was typical police radio chatter between a dispatcher here at the Chicago 911 center and a police officer on the south side. But at 8:26 a.m. Sunday, the conversation changed.

An unidentified voice says: "Typical f-----' n------."

A foul-mouthed racial reference was broadcast over the police zone radio, leaving the dispatcher nearly speechless and a supervisor asking to know more.

Dispatcher: "All right, you know, ok..."
Supervisor: "Find out what radio that comment came from."

Even without knowing who was behind the racial slurs, Interim Police Superintendent John Escalante and Mayor Rahm Emanuel both called what happened unacceptable, with Escalante promising to suspend any police officer involved.

But on Monday night, city emergency communications officials say they have reviewed the recordings and the records and say the "...audio in question lacks identifying characteristics of an official police radio."

Police sources says it is possible that someone bought a commercially-available police scanner that also enabled them to key into Chicago police radios. It's something that has happened previously, they say.

Even before the city could say it probably wasn't a cop, the incident had aroused protesters outside City Hall.

"To hear that over the radio that people are disrespecting us in such a manner is unbelievable. If we were to do that then we would be wrong," said Taylor Housing, a student activist.

When the talk button on a police radio is pressed, the device automatically sends a digital identifier that marks the number of the radio in police records. That function helps identify officers in trouble-simply by keying their radio.

The I-Team has been told that no such fingerprint was found on the transmitted racial slur, leading authorities to believe -at the very least - it wasn't a police radio that was used.
Copyright © 2022 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.