From Bad, To Worse, To Tragic

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.

The ‘Bad’

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.

The ‘Worse’

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.

The ‘Tragic’

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”.

Show 9 Comments


  1. Gerard H Schilling

    When those who are hired to protect us and who are correctly scanned (vetted) for virtue and honesty and adequately supervised these type of things simple do not happen.

    The vast majority of our police and fire department are good decent people and it is always the 5% that tarnish the whole.

    However, the other 95% have the obligation and responsibility to weed out these pariahs just as much as going after any other criminals. There is and has been a pattern here which needs to be addressed and resolved. Arrogance and pride always comes before the fall.

  2. Jim Haselhorst

    The old adage 80% of the problems come form 20% of the people applies to all endeavors involving human behavior, whether it is police, school officials, elected officials, CEOs, refugees, etc.. And all of these problems have a chance to become tragic. Over reacting to these situations only compound these tragedies.

    When police arrest someone for a crime and Mirandize them they are always advised that anything they say can be used against them in a court of law. This hold just as true for government representatives during legal situations. Their seemingly uncaring responses are actually carefully worded to avoid compounding the legal situations. Saying they are confident all policies and procedures were followed does not mean they believe there is no room for change or improvement and that these policies and procedures will not be reviewed, it simply means making a such a comment publicly and on the record could only be used against them in court, which means hurt taxpayers in the pocketbook. I know that seems callous but it is part of the duties and responsibilities of their position, to do otherwise would be negligent.

  3. Miranda Wrights

    Again Mr. Haselhosrt, your defence of the city is predictable, and wrong. They were dealing with a minor, and unless a parent or legal guardian was notified or present, they should not have been questioning him, Period. From the info that has been to the press, the parents were not notified until after the fact.

    • Jim Haselhorst

      School officials have the authority to question any student in their school at anytime on issues effecting the school and the safety of its students. The law requiring the presents of a parent or legal guardian only applies if the student being questions is going to be charged with a criminal offense, which in this case the school and police stated was never the intent.

      The photos this student shared which caused this situation, simply should not have been shared. When parents give their children a smart phone it is the parent’s responsibility to make sure their child possesses the maturity to use it properly and understand the legal implication of it’s improper use. If parents would accept responsibility for teaching their children right from wrong then school officials could spend their time focusing on education and police could spend their time focusing on public safety rather then parenting someone else child.

      The reality is the parents of children that use smart phones illegal are just as much to blame for these type of situations as anyone else. They failed as a parent by giving their children a smart phones without making sure their child was ready for the responsibility of having one. I know lots of parents that give a lot of thought to providing their child with a cellphone and choose to give them a basic phone with limited capabilities to prevent this type of misuse. Simply give them a smart phone because they want one is not good parenting.

      Admittedly it is a lot more difficult to be a good parent today then it was when I was a child. There is simply to many ways a child can get into trouble and society tends to look down on parents that do not let their child have the smart phone or computer access that makes getting into trouble so easy, but vilifying school official and police for not handling a these situations the way the parents wanted them handle will not solves these type of problems.

      P.S. School officials are not city employees. In fact the school system has it own governance separate from the city (we are not Chicago).

    • ZZ Topp

      Read the Illinois Juvenile Court Act of 1987, the laws which currently pertain to juveniles, and don’t rely on the media or the family’s attorney for their interpretation of the laws.

      • Jim Haselhorst

        705 ILCS 405 commonly referred to as the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 applies primarily to the situation were a child is being removed from the custody of their parent or legal guardian and place into state custody either for the safety of the child or public safety in general. This Statue only applies to situations were a minor has been officially taken into custody by the court, law enforcement, representative of the state or other individual exercising law enforcement authority. It does not apply to a situation were a child is taken to the principal’s office to be questions about violating school policies. Principal’s do not have law enforcement authority because there is no statue in Illinois that grants principals law enforcement authority under any circumstance.

        This child clearly was not being officially detained by law enforcement. He was not place in a police car, police holding facility or even handcuffed. If he was he would not have been able to climb out a window and hang himself.

        I have read this statue (all six sections including section V on delinquency) and do not see any section were it discusses requirements for representation for a minor not being held in police custody (in this case principal’s office).

        • ZZ Topp

          Ez Jim don’t get so defensive. I should have been more clear my statement was directed at Miranda’s ill-advised comments.

          As we all know there’s more to this story. Let’s all not try it in the court of public opinion for all involved.

  4. Miranda Wrights

    The school may have the right to question, but once they brought in the police, the kid didn’t know the intent of the cops or the school. We weren’t there. But you should be able to remember back to being called to the principal’s office, and then to have the cops there, and the apprehension that causes. And from Naperville police officer’s past behaviors (arresting moms over electric meters, which yhe city was surd for and lost), I think we all know they can be a bit heavy handed at times.

    • Jim Haselhorst

      Because the photos shared by this student violated child pornography laws it was only prudent for the principal to have a member of law enforcement present. As to the aforementioned lawsuit the judge did not rule against the city in any way. This case was settled out of court with no admission of guilty by either party. The continued misrepresentation of the outcome of this lawsuit as being proof of wrong doing by the city is a blatant falsehood, they no more lost this suit then the person filing it did. So if you are going to use the outcome of this suit to damn the city then you are also damning the “mom” that filed it.

      Have there been times when the city and city police have been heavy handed? Yes, a few times in the over 20 years I have live here, so I agree there is room for improvement. But the frequency of such events are few & far between and insignificant in comparison to other cities I have lived in.

      In this case the police were not being heavy handed, they simply responded to a principal’s request for a police presents. Heavy handed would have been to arrest this minor for distributing child pornography and his parents for facilitating the distribution of child pornography (they provided and paid for the smart phone used to commit this crime).

      Everyone seems to be forgetting the real victim here, the young girl who’s photographs this student shared with other students. How would you feel if your daughter were victimized in this way?

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