Let me make it perfectly clear. I am an avid supporter of rank and file police officers throughout the country, especially in today’s culture, when police are vilified for doing their job of keeping the peace, and maintaining law and order. It’s simple, you’re either with them, or you’re against them.
Sometimes there are no winners. Such is the case in Naperville, when situations went from bad, to worse, to tragic. Unfortunately each involved the Naperville Police Department.
A federal civil rights lawsuit was filed against the Naperville Police Department in April involving an incident in October 2014. It was filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago alleging that inappropriate behavior between a woman and an underage boy was allowed to occur in the back seat of squad car, with the woman allegedly taking advantage of the youth. Supposedly Naperville police officers in or near their patrol car failed to protect the underage youth. The case is working its way through the court system.
On April 8, there was a fatal traffic accident involving a woman who died after her car collided with a Naperville police patrol car. The accident occurred near the intersection of Ogden and Feldott Lane. Reportedly, the resident was on her way home from church service, and the police vehicle was in pursuit of a vehicle and in the process of making a vehicle stop. At issue is the timing of reporting the accident and the sketchy details of the report. Apparently it wasn’t handled as accidents normally are. Usually the NPD will contact local media within hours of a traffic fatality; it took almost three days for the information to be released. The investigation continues which unfortunately could result in another lawsuit.
On January 11 of this year, a 16-year old junior, Naperville North student (Corey Walgren) took his own life within three hours after being being called into a dean’s office for discussion about a disciplinary matter. After talking with the student, the school officials and officer left the student in an office by himself, while they left to talk with another school official. Upon returning, the student was gone and within a short period of time had taken his own life in downtown Naperville while people were searching to find him.
Tragic is not a strong enough word. No ‘kid’ should be talking with his friends, and having a sandwich, and thinking about the weekend and his future, and then within a few hours thinking about how he would end his life, and then actually do it.
There are no winners in this story. Everyone involved has to carry this tragic situation throughout their lives. The deans, the school officer, the school official, his parents, his friends, and so many others.
The school district said they were “incredibly saddened by Corey’s death” but they believed the situation was handled appropriately; that policy and procedure were proper. Naperville city attorney Mike DiSanto said the city was confident that proper policies and procedures were followed. In other words the school district and city officials are OK with the guidelines in effect, even though these guidelines resulted in the death of a 16-year old boy. How sad, that those in charge in creating policy and procedure are OK with the end result of this tragic situation.
The parents of the student have filed a lawsuit against against the school district and the Naperville Police Department for allegedly improper handling and questioning of their son. As it turned out, records show that the NPD never planned to press charges against the student, they simply wanted to impress upon the student to fully comprehend the seriousness of the situation. His mother said, “I think they wanted to scare him straight”, but instead, “they scared him to death”.