Street stops, converter thefts discussed


Changes in how officers conduct street stops and an increase in the number of catalytic converter thefts from cars were discussed at the Aug. 18 meeting of the 16th (Jefferson Park) Police District Advisory Committee.

It was reported that the Chicago Police Department will issue new guidelines on how officers conduct street stops, including instances in which contact cards are issued. Police use contact cards to record information about suspicious individuals who are questioned but are not arrested, and the cards can be used to help with future investigations.

The city is facing a lawsuit which claims that minorities have been disproportionately targeted for street stops, and the department has agreed with the American Civil Liberties Union to make change in the process. The Chicago Fraternal Order of Police has expressed concern that the changes will create more paperwork for officers and slow investigations.

Police officers are allowed to perform a protective pat down of an individual if they have a reasonable suspicion that the person poses a danger or has a weapon. However, it is expected that officers will soon have to provide a receipt that includes the officer’s name and badge number to individuals who are frisked and not arrested and that officers will be required to include the reason for a street stop on contact cards.

16th District captain Hootan Bahmandej said that a directive on the new contact card procedure is expected to be given to the districts soon and that Chicago is the first "large city" to voluntarily enter an agreement with the ACLU regarding the regulation of street stops.

Also at the meeting, Bahmandej said that the district has experienced an increase in the theft of catalytic converters in recent weeks and that thieves tend to target with high clearance that allow easier access to the underbody.

About 30 thefts of catalytic converters were reported in the district between Aug. 1 and Aug. 18, primarily between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. in the area bounded by Narragansett Avenue, Cicero Avenue, Montrose Avenue and Peterson Avenue, according to police. The most commonly targeted vehicles are Honda vans and sport utility vehicles.

Bahmandej said that in the past police have combated the problem by shutting businesses which buy the stolen converters. A committee member reported that he recently saw an advertisement in which used converters were being sold and that he turned a copy of the ad over to the district.

It also was reported that no one was injured during an apparent road rage incident on the westbound Kennedy Expressway between Lawrence Avenue and Sayre Avenue at about 5:10 a.m. Monday, Aug. 17, when several gunshots hit the side and rear of a car. The shots reportedly came from a passenger in one of the cars, Bahmandej said.

It also was announced that a man with a history of burglary arrests was charged in connection with a residential burglary in the 3200 block of North Page Avenue. Officers who were responding to a burglar alarm saw a man walking away from the site of a home that was under construction, and the man was arrested in a nearby alley, police said.

A duffel bag containing items reportedly stolen from a garage, where a sensor light had been broken, was found lying a gangway in the 3200 block of North Pacific Avenue, police said. The suspect was identified by police Timothy J. Chambers, age 58, of the 1000 block of West Lawrence Avenue.

The committee gave its Officer of the Month Award to officers Jacquelin Kinsella and Thomas Surma for a series of arrests which they made in June. The officers arrested two suspected gang members who had a loaded .40 caliber pistol and several bags of suspected crack cocaine in their car in the 5100 block of West Montrose Avenue and a man who was apprehended in connection with a reported armed robbery in the 4400 block of North Linder Avenue.