This one could come from a punch extended halfway across the country, from a former Chicago cop who allegedly has been recorded on tape telling students at Colorado State University that beating suspects and paying off informants with drugs is just a way of life for police in “Chi-town.”
Dexter Yarbrough, a former Gresham District community policing officer, allegedly made the remarks to students in 2008 lectures taped by a graduate student, according to the campus student newspaper, The Rocky Mountain Collegian.
Yarbrough, who took a leave of absence from Chicago police in 2000 and officially resigned in 2005, is chief of the Colorado State University Police Department and associate vice president of the Department of Public Safety. He was placed on indefinite paid leave last month “pending the outcome of a personnel investigation,” according to a statement from the university.
The article in the school newspaper details numerous complaints from officers under Yarbrough’s command as well as the recordings made by the graduate student, a former county sheriff’s deputy who thought the chief’s comments were out of line.
Yarbrough allegedly told students that paying informants with drugs was acceptable, as long as the informants never revealed where they got the drugs, and that excessive and violent force against a suspect is a “reality of law enforcement.”
“If there’s a news conference going on, I can’t get in front of a crowd and say, ‘He got exactly what the [expletive] he deserved.’ You know the police should have beat him, you know. I used to beat [expletive] when I was in Chicago too. I can’t say that,” the article quotes a recording of Yarbrough as saying.
“I’d have to say, ‘Well, you know we’re going to have to look into this matter seriously . . . all of our officers, we like to think that they operate with the utmost integrity and ethics’ . . . All of that [expletive] sounds good. That [expletive] sounds real good, but in the back of my mind, damn. He got popped. If he would have done it the way we used to do it in Chi-town, man, none of this [expletive] would have happened.”
For the past year, Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis has tried to shake an image of abuse that has plagued the department. And in a statement Friday, Weis pointed to his creation of the Bureau of Professional Standards, which he said is improving officer training, supervision and leadership.
“Dexter Yarbrough is no longer a member of the Chicago Police Department,” the statement said. “Ensuring that the men and women of this department receive the very best training throughout their service career is a priority and we are proud of the hardworking men and women who comprise our ranks . . . Anecdotal stories expressed in a classroom setting are not indicative of the type of work that the majority of our men and women do.”
The university wouldn’t say why it’s investigating Yarbrough, and he couldn’t be reached for comment.
In a posting on the university’s Web site, Yarbrough described himself as a 15-year veteran officer who worked on “important and highly sensitive assignments.”
Chicago police say he was assigned to the Gresham District, most recently as a community policing officer who would have worked closely with residents and represented the department at local beat meetings.
Yarbrough was at some point up for a public safety job at the University of Chicago, the student article reports, but claims he was passed over. The university on Friday wouldn’t comment on whether he was an applicant for any job there.