Norfolk Southern Railway

'Bait Truck' Police Tactic Panned

August 09, 2018 - 7:17 pm

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- A number of local officials and advocates are lashing out at a South Side sting operation that utilized tractor-trailer trucks as “bait” for catching would-be thieves.

Sixth Ward Alderman Roderick Sawyer, the city council’s Black Caucus chairman, saw a video of the operation.

An unguarded truck is left on a neighborhood street, and police swoop in to arrest anyone who tries to steal from it. Sawyer said it's an inappropriate use of police resources that happened to be focused on Englewood, which is considered a distressed neighborhood.

Congressman Danny Davis, speaking on a taping of “At Issue,” said he hopes this isn’t a standard police tactic. He said he doubts either Police Supt. Eddie Johnson or Mayor Emanuel would condone such tactics.

But Johnson seemed to support the operation, done in cooperation with Norfolk and Southern Railway and its police unit. He said Chicagoans have an interest in stopping such thefts.

"Just because it's out there and it's not yours that doesn't mean you're supposed to take it," he said.

The railroad, in a prepared statement, defended the operation as a response to thefts from freight containers in and around its rail yard.

The bait truck was a mile away from that yard.

Karen Sheley, director of the ACLU of Illinois' Police Practices Project, takes a dim view of enticing poor people to commit crimes.

At a time when people in the community do not trust the police, it's the wrong move, she said.