Allegations of racial tension within CPD

Witnesses say officers fought each other

By Charles Thomas
August 8, 2006 (Last Updated: 5:03 PM) - There are allegations of racial tension in the Chicago Police Department. Chicago police say they are investigating problems among officers who patrol on the city's West Side.

Longtime Chicago cops tell ABC7 they cannot remember an internal racial problem like this spilling out into the public view, if only for a few seconds. It happened over the weekend as officers investigated suspected drug sales on the West Side. Black and white cops divided and a couple reportedly resorted to fisticuffs.
OPS investigators canvassed the 800-block of North Parkside early Tuesday afternoon looking for witnesses who may have seen or heard what happened Sunday afternoon. Danielle Terry says a Caucasian uniformed officer, trying to question her son, used racial slurs and insults against her and others.

"I know for a fact he called me a monkey. A lot of people were complaining that he was calling them monkeys and stuff like that," said Danielle Terry, neighborhood resident.

Then, during the incident in which a policeman shot and killed Danielle Terry's dog, an African-American officer took offense at his colleague's language.

Witness Mitez Williams said the cops appeared to divide, black versus white.

"It was about 15 out here on each side. There was a nice amount out here," said Williams.

And she says it got worse.

"I saw the white cops come over here and hit the black cop. The black cop swung back," Williams said.

Police officials at the nearby 15th District, who wished to remain anonymous, confirmed the fight and simmering racial tension between black officers here and white "special operations" cops from elsewhere who are detailed into the West Side to patrol certain areas.

At headquarters, Superintendent Philip Cline acknowledged an internal investigation is underway.

"We work hard every day to build trust within the community while fighting crime. And we cannot lose sight of that," said Cline.

Some West Side ministers want the white officer punished for his language and want the black cop cited for heroism.

"We want the investigation to be done with the kind of transparency where it becomes obvious that the people who are wrong are punished and the people who did right are commended," said Rev. Marshall Hatch, New Mt. Pilgrim Baptist Church.

Mitez Williams wants the cops, from the 15th district or wherever, to get their act together.

"It was shocking to see them Fighting each other. I mean, they're going to fight each other, it's not for us to see," Williams said.

The ministers ABC7 saw Tuesday have already met with the 15th District commander. They are hoping to meet soon with Superintendent Cline to talk about racial tensions some special operations officers allegedly bring to the districts to which they are detailed.