Chicago Commander: Officers’ Babysitting Was Secret Study

The Chicago police superintendent suspended a commander for seven days for having officers pick up and watch over his autistic son. The commander claimed he wanted to observe how his son interacted with officers.

Facing allegations that his officers were baby-sitting his special-needs son, a Chicago police commander gave a novel explanation: He was conducting a secret study, the Chicago Tribune reports. Commander Anthony Escamilla acknowledged he had on-duty officers pick up his teenage son, who has autism, but insisted he worked as a volunteer in the community policing office. Pressed by the city’s inspector general’s office, Escamilla said he wanted to watch how his son did the work and interacted with his officers, taking mental notes he planned to share with the officers later. “I kind of wanted to just leave it to them, acting out in their job roles, and then him being a volunteer and seeing how it would go,” Escamilla told an investigator. “It’s not about my son and someone keeping an eye on him. This is about kids with his kind of disability and what we can do as a department to help them.”

Neither Escamilla’s officers nor the inspector general saw it that way. The officers complained that they were just watching over the boy for their boss. “I mean, baby-sitting, let’s just put it out, I don’t know how to say it,” one officer said. “I never thought about taking care of a kid from another officer on my job hours.” The inspector genera recommended possible dismissal, but police Superintendent Eddie Johnson decided on a seven-day suspension. A community policing sergeant who watched over Escamilla’s son and directed rank-and-file officers to do the same told the inspector general’s office he was concerned that the commander’s actions would overshadow the good police work in the district. “The good, honest people in my office are probably mad at me now and, you know, they’re probably going to quit,” he said.