Police SUVs That Aren’t Serving or Protecting: Part II

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Apparently the officers who parked this car were responding to a Chicago chicken emergency. Photo: J. Patrick Lynch

We owe a debt of gratitude to the police officers who work hard to make our streets safer for all Chicagoans, which includes enforcing traffic laws. And, as I’ve written before, an officer has every right to park his or her squad car in a crosswalk, bus stop, or bike lane if it’s necessary to quickly access a trouble spot in the line of duty.

However, when officers choose to block access for pedestrians, bus riders, and bicyclists with their vehicles simply because it makes their personal errands a little more convenient, that’s a minor abuse of their authority that undermines respect for the law.

Reader J. Patrick Lynch told us about a couple recent examples of this from Lakeview’s Broadway business strip. In the first case, pictured above, Lynch says two officers left their vehicle in the northbound bus stop at Wellington/Broadway while they ate a Korean-inspired fried chicken dinner across the street at Crisp on a Thursday evening. Can’t fault them for their taste in food.

“I asked one of them if that was their vehicle and if he really thinks he should be blocking access to the bus stop,” Lynch reports. “His response, no joke, was, ‘When you’re girlfriend calls us up because you are beating her, I need to have my vehicle close by.’” Not funny.

On a busy Saturday afternoon, Lynch drove by a patrol car that was parked in a crosswalk at Surf and Broadway, even though there was space to park behind the vehicle. After Lynch parked and was walking back to his apartment five minutes later, he saw an officer walking back to the unattended squad car.

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There was no need for this squad car to be parked in the crosswalk. Photo: J. Patrick Lynch

Lynch says he asked the officer why he didn’t use the empty space, since parking in crosswalks inconveniences pedestrians and sets a bad example for other motorists. “His response was, ‘Maybe there was a car there when I pulled up,’” Lynch said. “It’s always nice to be lied to by a police officer.”

“Both interactions were very disheartening,” Lynch concluded. “If the CPD can’t follow the law or even admit they might be wrong, what hope do we have for them enforcing things like blocking the crosswalk, bike lane, or bus stop?”

  • Bernard Finucane

    All animals are equal, but pigs are more equal.

  • undercover epicurean

    He’s lucky it wasn’t worse, when I had the temerity to point this out to a Chicago cop once, I was berated with some very, uh, “choice” language and threatened with arrest (with an implication of rough treatment along the way). And they wonder why they have an image problem…

  • Anne A

    I often have this problem with police vehicles parked by Top Notch in Beverly when they’re stopped for a meal. My S.O. shakes his head and says “this kind of crap is one more reason why people hate us.”

  • skyrefuge

    Two months ago, a pedestrian was killed at Broadway and Surf ( http://chi.streetsblog.org/2016/02/04/senior-killed-at-location-where-the-city-chose-not-to-mark-a-crosswalk/ ) Streetsblog’s article about that death (which also used Mr. Lynch as the main source) included a communication where the alderman’s office had earlier rejected the idea of painting a crosswalk at the location where the pedestrian was killed. They gave another option though:

    “There is an existing crosswalk approximately 200 feet north of Walmart… which is a good alternative,”

    That “good alternative” is the very same one that the police vehicle was blocking. How thoughtful.

    (that said, it’s not clear from Lynch’s statements that he was actually “lied to” by a police officer. He didn’t claim to see the officer arrive, so there very well may have been a car parked behind him at that time, as the officer hypothesized.)

  • Pat

    You’re right, I did not see him arrive. I did however see him in his vehicle while it was running, before he turned it off and exited. The “spot” behind him wasn’t a legal spot, but rather a no-parking zone that extends north to the alley. If there was a car in that zone, it should have been ticketed and towed by said officer. He also could have backed up before he turned off his vehicle.

    After he said to me “Maybe there was a car parked there.”, I told him I saw him in his car before he got out and there was no car there, and I asked why he would lie to me. His response: “I didn’t lie, I said MAYBE.”

    I’m not gonna nitpick an officer for parking in a tow zone like the one there, but as you can see from the picture, he choose the worst possible place to park and frankly didn’t care. He even sat there for a few more minutes before moving along.

  • skyrefuge

    Gotcha, thanks for the extra details. I guess on the plus(?) side, for some reason I feel like this officer trying to lawyer his way out of his infraction must feel at least a small amount of guilt and is more likely to think about it next time, compared to the first guys who will probably try even *harder* to park in the bus stop next time just to stick it to “that girlfriend-beating busybody”.

  • kastigar

    Several weeks ago I saw two police vehicle parked on Foster, in front of the Albany Park Library. They entered their vehicle and promptly proceeded to make a right-turn thru a red light, where a NO TURN ON RED was posted.

    I was a little slow on the uptake. I would normally have made a note of the car numbers and reported this. You can file this kind of report on-line, and I’d encourage you to do this. Include the vehicle number, date, time, and precise location.

  • Akif A

    I too was berated by a Chicago police officer. I was near those parking lots along Montrose beach and simply approached him to find out where the nearest bathroom was. I was too overcome by anger that I simply turned around and walked away before he could finish talking. Attitude problem, it’s a common thing among police officers in big cities like Chicago and NYC.

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