Chicago probes sex misconduct allegation against officers involving migrant living at police station

Jul 7, 2023, 10:06 AM

FILE - Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson, left, listens to Interim Police Superintendent Fred Waller, a...

FILE - Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson, left, listens to Interim Police Superintendent Fred Waller, as they outline the city's public safety plan in advance of Memorial Day weekend Thursday, May 25, 2023, in Chicago. The Chicago Police Department is investigating allegations that one or more officers had sex with migrants who were living in a police station after arriving in the city, the Chicago Tribune reported, Thursday, July 6. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago police are investigating sexual misconduct allegations against officers involving a migrant who was living in a police station after arriving in the city, Chicago’s police oversight agency said Friday.

The Chicago Police Department said in an email sent late Thursday that the department’s bureau of internal affairs, as well as the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, had opened an investigation into allegations involving an officer or officers, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Chicago is among the U.S. cities struggling to provide shelter and other help to hundreds arriving from the southern border, with families sleeping in police station lobbies. Migrants, largely from Central American countries, have been bused to Chicago and other major U.S. cities from Texas since the spring.

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability said in a statement Friday morning that the investigation began Thursday after it learned of a sexual misconduct allegation involving “members” of the Chicago Police Department and “a migrant temporarily housed at the police station” in the department’s 10th District on the city’s West Side.

After notifying the police department’s internal affairs bureau of the allegations, internal affairs then “formally opened this investigation,” the COPA statement added.

“While COPA investigators are currently determining whether the facts and details of this allegation are substantiated, we want to assure the public that all allegations of this nature are of the highest priority and COPA will move swiftly to address any misconduct by those involved,” spokesman Ephraim Eaddy said in the statement.

A Chicago Police Department spokesperson did not address the Tribune’s questions about whether any officers had been stripped of their police powers.

The department also did not respond Friday to questions from The Associated Press seeking to confirm whether any officers had been reprimanded.

The Chicago Police Department, in response to questions from The Associated Press, referred the AP to a statement saying only that, “These allegations are under investigation with CPD’s Bureau of Internal Affairs and the Civilian Office of Police Accountability.”

COPA said in its Friday statement that, “this investigation is ongoing, and all information is preliminary.”

A spokesperson for the office of Mayor Brandon Johnson told the Chicago Tribune that “the city takes these allegations, as well as the care and well-being of all residents and new arrivals, very seriously.”

A message seeking additional comment on the allegations was left Friday morning by the AP for the mayor’s office.

Since August 2022, about 11,000 migrants have arrived in Chicago, according to Cristina Pacione-Zayas, Mayor Brandon Johnson’s deputy chief of staff, who addressed Chicago City Council members on June 28.

Many of those migrants have found themselves seeking shelter in Chicago police stations, as the city has struggled to find adequate housing for them.

Since April, each of Chicago’s 22 district police stations — along with several other city-owned or otherwise unused buildings — have become a temporary home for hundreds of migrants, sometimes drawing the ire of local residents.

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Chicago probes sex misconduct allegation against officers involving migrant living at police station