The Chicago Police Department is currently investigating allegations of misconduct involving several officers accused of engaging in improper sexual relations with recently arrived migrants. The Department’s Bureau of Internal Affairs and the Civilian Office of Police Accountability are conducting the investigation. The exact number of officers involved and any disciplinary actions taken remain unclear.
Reports of these allegations first surfaced in the Chicago Sun-Times. Over the past few months, hundreds of migrants have been housed in various city buildings, including Chicago police stations, while long-term solutions are being sought. At one point, the 12th District police station accommodated over 70 migrant families, with migrants residing on the station’s floors.
Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson’s office acknowledged the investigation, emphasizing the seriousness of the allegations and the city’s commitment to the well-being of all residents and newcomers. However, due to the ongoing investigation by the Bureau of Internal Affairs and the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, further comments were withheld.
Karina Ayala-Bermejo, President and CEO of the nonprofit Instituto del Progreso Latino, stressed that housing migrants and asylum seekers in police stations is not a sustainable solution. She urged city officials to expedite the resettlement process, recognizing that individuals who have experienced trauma and persecution are at an elevated risk of various abuses.
John J. Catanzara Jr., President of Fraternal Order of Police Chicago Lodge No. 7, dismissed the complaints as baseless and lacking validity. He described the migrant situation in the city as a peculiar spectacle, claiming that police stations had turned into amusement parks with bouncy horses outside. Catanzara advocated for finding proper shelters to address the needs of migrants effectively.
The Civilian Office of Police Accountability issued a statement confirming its awareness of a sexual misconduct allegation involving members of the Chicago Police Department assigned to the 10th District and a migrant temporarily housed at the police station. While investigations are ongoing, the office expressed its commitment to addressing any substantiated misconduct swiftly and with the highest priority.
Chicago continues to struggle in finding a sustainable solution for the persistent flow of migrants from the southern US border. These migrants, originating from various countries in Central and South America, as well as Mexico, have traveled thousands of miles seeking refuge. Attempts to relocate them to community colleges and high schools have faced opposition from residents in those neighborhoods. Former Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued an emergency declaration during her tenure, acknowledging the national humanitarian crisis and the need for additional locations to accommodate the arriving individuals and families.