Racial Profiling Scandals Rock Chicago Suburbs

Affiliate: ACLU of Illinois
February 12, 2000 12:00 am

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CHICAGO – According to a story in today’s Chicago Sun Times, four additional current and former Highland Park police department employees have come forward to back allegations of racial profiling, discrimination and other wrongdoing within the 45-member North Shore department.

The Sun Times reported that makes 16 current and former officers and other department employees who now are supporting the claims in a federal lawsuit of problems in the Highland Park department.

Among the latest allegations, made in sworn statements filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Chicago and released Friday, was one from a beach patrol officer who said officers referred to duty around Morraine Park as “border patrol” because of the large number of Hispanics there.

Monique Davis, a beach patrol auxiliary police officer, said that while working at Morraine Park on Sheridan Road, she also heard a supervisor refer to the area as “south of the border” because so many Hispanics go there.

The Sun Times story said that Police Chief Daniel Dahlberg, Mayor Daniel Pierce and Michael Zimmerman, an attorney representing Highland Park, did not return calls seeking comment on the court statements. (More information about the racial profiling controversy in Highland Park is available at: http://archive.aclu.org/news/2000/w011100a.html , http://archive.aclu.org/news/2000/w010700a.html)

Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune reported today that a federal lawsuit was filed Friday against Mt. Prospect and its Police Department, echoing racial-profiling charges that have consumed the town in recent months.

According to the Tribune, the suit, filed by Mt. Prospect resident Hiram Romero, seeks class-action status on behalf of Hispanic drivers targeted under a policy of “stopping, detaining, and issuing traffic tickets to persons on the basis of race and without legally sufficient cause,” to boost arrest totals.

The same allegations have been leveled in separate suits against the village by fired police officer Javier Martinez and current officers Gustavo Medrano and Harry Moser. The U.S. attorney’s office opened an inquiry into the allegations after Martinez won a $1.2 million jury verdict last month. (More information is available at: http://archive.aclu.org/news/2000/w011900a.html)

The newest suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago, names the village, the Police Department, Police Chief Ronald Pavlock, and current officers Timothy Janowick and Joseph Favia as defendants.

Village officials could not be reached for comment. But Pavlock’s attorney, Terry Ekl, said he was not surprised by the suit.

“It’s exactly the kind of suit that we expect someone to file without knowing all the facts,” he said.

The newspaper reported that Romero’s suit claims Favia stopped and ticketed him without justification last April. He alleges the stop was part of a “policy” of targeting Hispanics to meet arrest quotas.

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