Criminally Stupid

By Larry Teren

“Your honor, it must be something they add to the Lake Michigan water we drink in the Chicago area. Three very recent news events are submitted to the court for you to judge.”    Another way to put this, is what does a criminally stupid bank robber,  unhappy lady bar patron and a police chief have in common?


In the first, last Thursday at 5:00pm a lady approached a teller at a bank in Albany Park, on Chicago’s northwest side. She handed over a note that read: “all of your money, no cops, no dye pack”. The teller looked at it replied, “sorry, the bank is closed now. Come back tomorrow.” With that, the would-be robber left the building very quickly. But not before she had her five or so minutes of fame on the bank’s surveillance camera. It was quite easy to recognize her. She was dressed in plaid pajama bottoms and a dark-colored hooded jacket with a large emblem on its back.

She stayed away Friday and Saturday but couldn’t resist the temptation to return to the scene of the aborted crime. What she didn’t account for into her planning was that the bank personnel were given some time to watch the film of the erstwhile perpetrator and memorize her face and other accoutrements. On Monday, April 2, she showed up at the entrance to the bank and was immediately spotted by one of the tellers. The Chicago Police Department  was notified, acted quickly and nabbed her. Her accomplice, a male, tried to make a getaway but after a short chase by police officers was also handcuffed. As it turned out, he also was a film star of a sort. His profile matched that of the person on the bank’s surveillance video of the robbery that took place on March 23 in which $2,589 was taken.

The second addition to the hall of shame took place on April 2 at night when a different lady decided to go to a tavern establishment in Melrose Park, a part-bedroom, part-light industrial complex suburb to the south of O’hare Airport. She took a seat at the bar to have a drink. Soon after, she was shoved and then punched by an alleged inebriated woman who claimed that her bar stool had been unlawfully usurped.

The first lady- no, not the President’s wife- called the local law enforcement agency and went outside from the watering hole to wait for them to show up. Thirty minutes later, as they arrived she decided it was in her best interests to re-enact the scene as it occurred. She tried to demonstrate the uppercut and the police officer, not buying into it, grabbed her arm and twisted her wrist to put her into a back hold and threw her against the squad car. Other police officers yelled at him to let her go.

Our heroine claims that the police officer continued to act rough with her as they went to the police station so that she could file a report. She also says that other police officers were peering into her car looking for evidence of possession of illegal substances while she was in the police station.

Naturally, she went to see a lawyer on Tuesday and has filed suit against the Village of Melrose Park alleging that a police  officer used excessive force, did a false arrest and caused battery to her body.

If you are confused by this second narrative because you are not sure if the police officers decided to treat her as if she got into a bar fight and not the victim of circumstances- so am I. But that is considered part of a night’s entertainment in the Chicago metropolitan area. Oh, and drive-by shootings as well.

However, the real kicker is the third chapter of our saga and not funny at all. This is taken from the alleged police officer’s report. On Friday, March 31 at 10:00pm, Village of Grayslake Chief of Police had an accident with his car just over the border in Wisconsin. Grayslake is in the northern part of Illinois not too far from the state line. Thankfully there were no injuries other than pride. The Kenosha County sheriff’s police arrested him for allegedly drunk driving.

This is what the arresting police officer had to say in his report: “I could smell a strong odor of intoxicants coming from his breath. I also observed that the eyes were bloodshot and glossy. His speech was slow.”

When asked if he had been drinking, the police chief said he had had a few beers with dinner. When asked if he was carrying a gun, he pointed to the 9mm pistol in his holster underneath his shirt. When the arresting police officer removed the gun, he found seven rounds of live ammunition in it including one in the chamber. He refused a sobriety test and against his will was taken to a hospital. At the hospital the police chief said he had had three vodka martinis at dinner.

The police chief earns about $130,000 a year in a job he has held on a temporary basis since last summer. Just two months ago, he was given permanent status winning out from over 120 applicants.

The now temporarily suspended police chief  has been on the force for more than twenty years.

By the time his case goes to court the issue of his job title may be resolved one way or another. The judicial system can decide whether he is guilty of the alleged charges. I wonder if stupid really is the right word to describe someone who has been in law enforcement for more than two decades to put himself into a situation he has to defend. Or do police officers in Kenosha County not like us good citizens from Illinois?


July 2012 update:

The Grayslake police chief was never reinstated and after an interim period that expired on July 1, the village board chose the deputy police chief of Glenview, Illinois to the police chief job permanently.

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