Written by The Chicago Defender
The North Chicago Police Department is being criticized for a brochure that was littered with African American stereotypes of images many found disturbing, according to media reports.
The handout, which was distributed last week to attendees of the Citizen Police Academy, reportedly depicted such buffoonery as “Tyrone Biggums” (pictured), the crackhead character that was made famous by comedian Dave Chappelle on his now-defunct TV show.
There was also reportedly a mug shot of a smiling African American man donning an orange prison jumpsuit surrounded by officers. And still, there was reportedly another mug shot of a slack-jawed Black man with bug eyes.
The brochure also reportedly contained pictures of Tom Cruise’s character in the film “A Few Good Men,” actress Lindsay Lohan, famed TV court show justice Judge Judy, fat cops, and there was even a shot of Tom Crean, the Indiana University men’s basketball coach.
The controversial police department has been beset with charges of racial profiling and police brutality accusations in the past, with the most recent being the arrest and beating death of Darrin Hanna March 2012.
Hanna was a Black man who was arrested on a domestic battery charge and died several days later after police used a stun gun on him excessively. Lake County prosecutors declined to charge three policemen with the crime, arguing that the accused officers acted “reasonably and responsibly.” While the case was reclassified as a homicide last month, according to the coroner, the death does not imply criminal intent on the part of the policemen.
Meanwhile, the racially insensitive brochure, which department officials say was created by an African American police officer, was supposedly not authorized for distribution.
According to Lake County’s State Attorney Mike Nerheim, “Unprofessional is probably the nicest way to put it. 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,” he said.
But NAACP’s Lake County President Jennifer Witherspoon doesn’t seem to be buying the lip service that is coming from police department’s officials and says, “Someone needs to be held accountable for the handout’s distribution. This is not who we are. We are doctors and lawyers. I don’t understand why this wasn’t reviewed by the chief or mayor before it went out.”
The Academy program runs 10 weeks and offers an “in-depth view into various areas of law enforcement.” The course was developed by the police department with the purpose of working toward building a safer community and creating “a better understanding, communication and partnership between the citizens and the police through education.”