Parent protests use of football players in police lineup (Star Newspapers, IL, Thursday, October 23, 2003): Rich Township High School District 227 officials say they are dealing with parental complaints about Rich East High School football players who were used in a police lineup without parental consent. Former Chicago Heights mayoral candidate the Rev. Lawrence Blackful said his 14-year-old son, a member of Rich East's sophomore football team, received $20 from the Park Forest Police Department to stand in a lineup last week. Freshman football coaches involved in the incident violated school district policy by allowing the students to leave football practice to participate, according to Anita Howard of District 227. She said it was the freshman team coaches who were involved with the lineup. Howard said district officials have dealt with the issue, but she would not elaborate on the specifics of any disciplinary action as it is a personnel matter. She said school officials did not sanction the activity, adding that it was unacceptable.
Good grief. What in the name of heaven were they thinking? You do not involve juveniles with the police without parental consent. People with brains would not do this in any situation where the students might be wrongfully (or, worse, correctly) identified as the suspects in a crime; the lack of parental consent, and the fact that they were never read their rights would irretrievably contaminate any identification.
Policy of slipping students into police lineups reeks (Chicago Sun-Times, October 23, 2003) BY MARY MITCHELL SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST: Cordell Chavers, a 14-year-old freshman at Rich East High School in Park Forest, was proud of himself when his mother picked him up after football practice on Oct. 14. "I made $20 today," he said. "We helped the police out. We were in a lineup."
Marilyn Chavers was stunned. Then she was furious. Chavers said she drove her son back to the Park Forest Police Station and demanded to see the Police Chief, Francis G. DioGuardi. "He was on another call. I left the $20 with one of his officers and told him my son shouldn't have taken it."
Apparently, Park Forest Police officers have been paying juveniles at Rich East High School to be in lineups for years. If the juveniles agree to participate, the arrangement is not illegal, said a spokesman for the Cook County state's attorney. "But it shows horrible judgment and is totally inappropriate if police are picking up kids and not telling them what it is about," spokesman John Gorman said. "Nobody can find any statute that makes what they are doing illegal, but that doesn't make it right."
You know, I can't imagine that this could possibly be legal. There is probably no statute that says, "Oh, by the way, you're not allowed to put juveniles into police lineups without parental consent," but dealing with juveniles in the legal system is generally so tightly restricted, I can't imagine that anyone with a functioning brain cell thought that this was legal. I can't imagine that anyone with a functioning brain cell thought that there would not be a high price to pay when word of this got out. I can't imagine that anyone with a functioning brain cell thought that this wouldn't eventually become public knowledge.
The mother said she contacted Brian Knutson, superintendent of District 227, and Reginald Brown, principal of Rich East High School, and neither official responded to her complaint. The next day, she went to the high school and demanded a meeting with Brown. She was told he could only be seen by appointment, Chavers said. She did get to meet with the associate principal, Ronald Bean. "He told me he didn't mean to make light of it, but that 'we do this all the time,' " Chavers said. "My son is 14 years old. I think he is at football practice, but he winds up at the police station. The school has some kind of connection with the police station, and when the police need somebody for a lineup, they come up to the school."
Both Brown and Bean are African-American. Chavers said she was shocked that the black educators allowed black male students to be put into police lineups. "If they were white people I probably could have understood it a little bit better," she said.
Ah. There, I will disagree, slightly. I suspect that white administrators would have had a better sense that they simply would not survive doing something this boneheaded. There is simply no way they could remove the suspicion of racial discrimination. (For that matter, surely there was crime committed by white juveniles in Park Forest. It's a suburb, after all. Yet the white football players weren't asked to participate in the same type of lineup, it seems. How very odd.)
Knutson and Brown claimed they had no knowledge of the lineup, and that Chavers never contacted them. Neither statement rings true. How could school officials not know?And if Chavers called local TV stations -- and me -- it is reasonable to believe she also called school officials.
Indeed. Rich East officials are clearly in full spin mode. And doing it very badly, one might add.Posted by iain at October 23, 2003 11:13 AM