North Chicago Police Brochure Sparks Controversy

The official handout was intended to illustrate trial procedures, but the pages filled with black stereotypes and celebrity parodies has brought more criticism than praise.

By Amanda Bonafiglia
|  Monday, Feb 25, 2013  |  Updated 6:10 PM CDT
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A police brochure distributed at the North Chicago Police Academy last week has raised some ire over its less-than-thoughtful racially-tinged illustrations. 

The brochure, intended to be a primer for court procedings that police officers might have to navigate, included images of comedian Dave Chappelle as the junkie Tyrone Biggums, a smiling African-American handcuffed in an orange jumpsuit and another African-American portrayed as dumbfounded in a mug shot.

NAACP Lake County Branch President Jennifer Witherspoon told the Chicago Sun-Times that the handout reinforces “every negative stereotype blacks as a people have been fighting against.”

Waukegan activist Ralph Peterson brought the handout to the attention of the North Chicago City Council last week stating that it displayed insensitivity for the African-American community following the Darrin “Dagwood” Hanna police brutality case.

The brochure featured TV cop Barney Fife, Judge Judy and Lindsay Lohan. Lake County State’s Attorney Mike Nerheim as a military defense attorney opposite Tom Cruise from “A Few Good Men” was on the cover.

“Unprofessional is probably the nicest way to put it,” Nerheim told the Sun-Times. “It was obviously done without my knowledge and consent. I definitely see how it could be offensive to people. It’s not something that should be coming out of the police department.”

The brochure also contains images of Indiana University basketball coach Tom Crean, overweight white police officers and murder defendant Casey Anthony.

According to North Chicago Police Chief James Jackson, the handout was created by an African-American officer who was never given permission to create the document.

The handout has been removed from the curriculum and police Lt. Tony Thies, who is in charge of the academy, apologized to participants who showed up for the third class.

Although officials have found the handout disturbing, many participants from the police academy understand how it was taken the wrong way but were not offended by the incident.

Academy student Paula Carballido of North Chicago said an officer explained the images were taken from movies and TV and were not meant to offend.

Carballid said she finds the course informative and “respectful,” stating that, “officers are human and they can make poor choices, but the officers in the academy want to restore trust.”
 

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