Thursday, March 09, 2017

Cops Seeking Theft Suspect Are Told "Get A Warrant" By Center On Halsted Staff

Tipped off that a theft suspect had fled into the Center on Halsted on Monday evening, two Chicago police officers entered the sprawling LGBTQ community center at 3656 North Halsted to investigate.

Inside, they were met by two people who identified themselves as Center on Halsted staff. The staff had a message for the cops: “Get a warrant.”

That’s according a Chicago Police Department case report that CWB Chicago acquired via a Freedom Of Information Act request.

The alleged incident raises more questions about the Center on Halsted’s relationships with police and neighbors. It also indicates that Center staff members tried to thwart legitimate police efforts with the same tactics that were once used by the Broadway Youth Center—until that agency’s conduct was laid out in a series of 2013 reports by our team.

“Their Sanctuary”

Shortly after 4 o’clock on Monday, a man dressed as a woman entered the 7-Eleven store at 3700 North Broadway and stole a stack of merchandise. A store employee watched as he walked a half block west and entered the Center on Halsted lobby.

The 7-Eleven at 3700 N. Broadway is within eyesight of the Center on Halsted entrance | Google
It’s “typical,” according to a former store employee who says the location is frequently targeted by individuals who steal and then return to the Center.

Two police officers entered the Center on Monday to look for the latest theft suspect—a 6-foot tall black man in his 20’s who was wearing a long auburn-colored wig.

They saw no one matching that description in the Center’s lobby, so the officers made their way up the stairs to the second floor.

That’s where they were met by a man and a woman who identified themselves as Center on Halsted employees. The two individuals refused to give their names, police said.

But, they told the cops that they refused to cooperate any further unless the police had a warrant. The staff further claimed—erroneously—that federal health provider confidentiality laws (HIPAA) prohibit police from being there.

Officers told the staff members the obvious: The cops didn’t want health records or anything that would involve HIPAA. They only wanted to know if a theft offender was hiding on the premises.

“It was further explained that if the offender was on scene, the Center was, in effect harboring a fugitive,” police said in their report.

But, the Center on Halsted staff “repeatedly cited medical privacy laws as the reason the Center on Halsted would refuse to assist the police in any way regarding the apprehension of a criminal,” according to the report.

As the officers continued their discussions with Center staff, a security guard approached and said that the person they were looking for had left the building.

Given that information, the report says, “no further issue was made of the Center on Halsted’s refusal to cooperate with law enforcement at the time.”

Policy of Truth?

Even if HIPAA applied to cases like Monday’s (it doesn’t), the law specifically allows for accommodations when law enforcement is involved in a time-critical effort.

Where did we read that? Well, at the Center On Halsted’s website, for starters.

So, we wonder... Were the staff members really concerned about the privacy of healthcare records or were they more concerned with not helping the police?

Flashback To BYC

The Center staff are hardly the first social service agency workers to try to use the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act to deflect officers in pursuit of known criminals.

CWB Chicago revealed in a detailed 2013 report that the Broadway Youth Center, formerly located at Broadway and Belmont, repeatedly blocked police efforts by erroneously citing the law.

Those cases, which involved violent offenders, were called “obstructions of justice” by police.

Before our report, BYC representatives claimed to have healthy relationships with the police, and they boasted about that “strong” relationship at community meetings.

But police officers of all ranks told very different stories in private, leading to our investigation, which was aided by members of the community.

Enjoy The Silence

We contacted COH Chief Executive Officer Modesto “Tico” Valle and Director of Public Relations Peter Johnson about Monday’s incident twice via email—once on Tuesday and again late yesterday afternoon. They did not respond.

Also, we have contacted 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney, his Chief of Staff Bennett Lawson, and his Director of Public Safety and Community Affairs Chris Jessup about this case and other Center on Halsted matters three times since January 9. None of them has responded.

Their email addresses are provided here for your convenience.

  • Tom.Tunney@cityofchicago.org
  • Bennett.Lawson@cityofchicago.org
  • Chris.Jessup@cityofchicago.org
  • mvalle@centeronhalsted.org
  • pjohnson@centeronhalsted.org

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65 comments:

  1. It's unfortunate. The patience of the Police and neighborhood are both be taken advantage of. When you make the civilized and orderly tap dance around the egg shells of the criminals, it's a symptom of something greater that's going wrong.

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  2. I'm curious if a clean-cut dull 40-something, simply gay White male could use COH as home base after stealing a loaf of bread and get protected like that there.

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    1. I think this is more about COH policy. If you're making it about race, you've already made your bias clear. Or are you asking for yourself? In this example, and in life, the white 40 year old has privilege and will be extended leniency. I don't think ANY criminal should be aided just as much as I think you took this as a time to talk about race. Wrong timing

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    2. The police don't exactly have a history of being cordial with the LGBT community, so I'm utterly unsurprised the center didn't cooperate.

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    3. The police don't exactly have a history of being cordial with the LGBT community, so I'm utterly unsurprised the center didn't cooperate.

      -------
      Send Lakeview examples from the past 20 years, please. Never mind. That is a fool's errand. How about: If the police history is bad, why does the Center on Halsted call them to arrest people (on average) twice per month?

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    4. Only a total douche would try to make the cops the bad guys in this story.

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  3. P.S. I drove for Uber for a short period. It's not a smart way to make money but used it to order the moving truck out of Chicago. I picked up the female clerk that worked at that frozen yogurt store - alone - there on Halsted. Boy (no pun intended), did we have a conversation!

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  4. My life partner and I would not give one penny in donation to the shady criminal harboring of an organization. This area has hated them being here since their inception, but we gave them a year to get their act straightened out and they obviously never did! I could only imagine the stuff that is destroyed and stolen inside but I can be positive they never report these losses & crimes to the police since they hate law enforcement so much. Maybe this is why cops are not too motivated to get involved in their matters, if they don't like or cooperate with Chicago Police, well they should be on their own when sh#t hits the fan one day! Don't call em'-- Handle your own Center on halsted bullshit since you invite and give freebies to rapists, robbers, and shoplifters with a smile on your faces

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    1. One of the "not recommended" Yelp reviews for COH mention it's a great place to give or receive a BJ.

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    2. No more funding and actively going to educate people about the lawlessness in this building being used as shelter for lowlifes!

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  5. (And, again, he no longer lists his current COH position on his FB page, just his previous employment, which is VERY telling).

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  6. This is one of the many reasons I hated working at COH. My current employer (a neighborhood agency) works in concert with the police, the alderman, and the community to ensure that the area around us is safe - no riff-raff stuff allowed. Why doesn't COH do this? Not that hard to do...!!!

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  7. And people wonder why cops think twice about getting out of their cars. It's a shame a shit hole like COH is allowed to stay in a neighborhood where the majority of the people want safety and peace. Tunney, why don't you put the cinnamon rolls down for a moment and focus on doing your job, what you were ELECTED to do.

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  8. Um that section you cited from the Patient Privacy Practices says very clearly "In response to a warrant or a subpoena" so what they said is in line with what their privacy practices state, so you might want to reword or re-work that section of your argument.

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    1. Get back to reading 101 ASAP, Unknown!
      - HIPAA does not apply here
      - In situations where it does, there is myriad reasons that it can be waived. The Center lists several of those reasons. Note the use of the word "or," which indica....Ah, never mind. Get back to reading class!)

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    2. Great come back! What ever happened to reading comprehension?

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    3. Indeed, the CoH page specifies "... may disclose your PHI to law enforcement officials... For example... for the purpose of identifying or locating a SUSPECT, witness, or missing person...."

      It promises nothing about withholding info on your physical whereabouts. (Will they say that info on your whereabouts is included in "PHI"?)

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    4. The HIPAA statute relates to providing medical, mental health or other sensitive personal information without a warrant or subpoena, not to providing information as to whether a suspected criminal is on the premises. As citizens, the staffers have an obligation to offer up suspected perps to the police.

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  9. Time to start a BOYCOTT of the sponsors of Center on Halsted.
    Go to their website and you can see many of them including:
    Allstate, American Airlines, Ameriprise Financial, Bank of America, Blue Cross, BMO/Harris Bank, CNA, Comcast, Jewell Catering, JP Morgan Chase, Kellog's, Kraft, Kehoe Designs, MB Financial, Miller Coors, Mini of Chicago, Northwestern Medicine, Pepsico, Ravenswood Health Care, US Bank, Walgreens, Wells Fargo, and Whole Foods.

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    1. I'm going to consolidate each of these COH stories about them not following their own policies (staff not showing up in court, etc) and share with the public relations team for each any every one of their sponsors. This abomination thinks they can skirt the law, harbor criminals, and degrade neighborhood safety. Well let's focus on drying up their funding so they can either clean up their act or get the hell out.

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    2. Anonymous, thank you! And when you consolidate this information and send it to these businesses, perhaps there could be a list of neighbors who second the request they stop funding the COH (and whatever other irresponsible agencies they may be funding that , i.e. The Crib, Howard Brown). I'm sure the majority of these businesses have no idea they mayhem and chaos to which they are contributing.

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  10. They have some gall since the cops are there every other day. Place is FILLED with criminals...and letting "youth"eat for free and sit in chairs all day isn't helping. How about getting them jobs?

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    1. They are not interested in working.

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  11. You guys can't really want the police to have the ability to search any business or home they feel like without a warrant? Not a big fan of COH, but they did the correct thing in this situation.

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    1. If the police, acting on a victim's eyewitness account, said that a criminal was hiding in my business, they could search every inch. They wouldn't even need to ask. And if they did ask, I'd lock the doors to keep the criminal from getting out the back.

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    2. Put another way, no one is required to help the police. But good neighbors do.

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    3. COH is neither a business nor home, nor should it be a criminal sanctuary.

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    4. OMG. Listen neighbor....your lack of even the most elementary logic on this matter is mind boggling. Unreal.
      The police do NOT have the right to execute warrantless searches.
      That doesn't mean COH MUST (or should) refuse to cooperate. Cripes.
      ---
      What do you think would / should happen in the case of a violent skinhead neo-nazi, who just beat the snot out of some girlyboy in the lobby of COH, ran upstairs, and hid in the office?
      Think they'd refuse to cooperate with the police then?
      Not in a million years. Nor should they.
      Seriously, please use more brain power here.
      This is exactly the sort of regressive left nonsense that put our current president in office.

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    5. Isn't the COH a public facility? The police were stopped as they climbed the stairs. They were not attempting to enter a locked, private space. As described in this article, this is clear obstruction of justice.

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    6. You do know the police can search any licensed establishment?

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    7. Go to law school before you make your uninformed pro criminal comments.

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  12. COH is a criminal clouted organization.

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    1. They are protected by Rahm and Tunney.

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  13. Maybe the COH staff asked the police to get a warrant because they have something else to hide. I'm not saying they have a secret meth lab on the premises, but we'll never know until the police thoroughly search the place. 3:-)

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    1. If you know of something you can confidentially speak to the Police FYI

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  14. Thanks for providing the email addresses. They have all been contacted. I also contacted my legislators requesting that the COH not receive any state or federal funds until they stop obstructing law enforcement. I have a feeling the White House would also look sympathetically on this cause.

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    1. Terrific! Let us know what they say if they respond.

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  15. Shoplifters, burglars, muggers, child molesters and weirdos have a Safe Space in the COH.

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  16. Since the Center on Halsted while inviting these criminals down here and now playing sancuary by demanding a warrant next time they call police the police need to wait an hour before going out there. At one of the CAPs meetings a representative from the center told me they do not show up in court since "they handle it internally" well then let the center handle it for an hour before showing up, let the center handle it ALL, dont use our tax dollars to call police then not follow through and now to hide criminals.

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    Replies
    1. As a former employee, I know that "they can handle it internally" is code for "they do not handle it all"...

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  17. Completely outrageous, but business as usual, ain't it?

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    1. It's all about funding and keeping appearances. Can't have any blemishes on record so they don't cooperate with police and don't show up in court.

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  18. Here are the Center's tax filings and reporting:
    https://www.guidestar.org/PartnerReport.aspx?ein=51-0178807&Partner=Demo

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  19. Tommy Tunney rides again! I confronted him about this matter and a similar matter this afternoon, and he eluded me and lied that he had a meeting to get to. He was rude and crude and couldn't have acted like he cared any less. We need a viable worthy candidate to replace that big piece of useless cheese. Election's coming up next year!

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    1. You should've stolen his phone while he had it out at the bus stop.

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    2. TT isn't just one of the worst politicians I've worked with, he's one of the worst human beings. If you ever get a private meeting with him you'll be shocked. He's self-serving and small-minded at a level that will surprise you, guaranteed. Expect nothing from him on the COH matter.

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    3. Tunney and Rahm know the liberals and gays will continue to vote for them so they do what they please.

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  20. The most telling part of this article is that the COH employees refused to identify themselves. If they are following HIPAA rules as they claim, what do they have to hide?

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  21. Official's silence is unacceptable. Nevertheless, to the people dissatisfied with the CoH: It's more constructive to volunteer your time and help your community. Want lakeview to improve and the COH to change? Volunteer at it.

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    1. Well there a few to many paid ex-employees of COH that "couldn't take it anymore"......and you think people should volunteer?

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    2. Volunteer to help adult criminals with backpacks eating and sitting for free all day?

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    3. I'm not endangering my life volunteering at a place that harbors criminals. The staff would probably try to hide my body before help was called.

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    4. Right, a body hidden in a closet there....."Well he was only one person".."Wait, go grab a band-aid, this is probably just your perception"....

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  22. I was in that 7/11 back in the summer and was standing next to a guy who blatantly stole a bottle of whiskey. I looked twice at him and he was so casual about it...and walked out. That store is hit all the time. Even the Jewel is hit. I don't think it happens to Whole Foods because of security.
    First off, what the men are stealing is probably worth less than $10; second the men are probably hungred and destitute. Third, if the police arrest them, they will have to let them go because of Kim Foxx's policy of "less than $1000" theft.

    So it's really on the 7/11 owners to hire security - station somebody at the door if necessary. Or lock up their goods. I'm sure all the thieving that goes on hurts them in the insurance pocket, but they have to deter it.

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    1. if they are hungry the Center has a program with the whole foods to give their Kid criminals free food from the food bar. They are not hungry they steal booze and other, they are just thieves in training till they beat and rob some one with a gun

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    2. How does the bottle of whiskey alleve a destitute person's hunger again?

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    3. Stealing "probably less than $10". Oh, no big deal then. Steal away!

      And how about it not just be "on the 7/11 owners"? How about the COH, where they often go running, hold them accountable by 1) allowing the police to enter and arrest such thieves, 2) being a credible agency (and a responsible neighbor) by showing up in court if called upon to be a witness and 3) prohibiting the thief from further entrance into "the Center of Hell" for our good and even their own. They, not only, are not helping these criminals they are hurting them by enabling them. They know it, but money is more important than the lives of their "young" charges (some in their 30's) never mind the residents and visitors of Lakeview.

      The COH must be shut down. They have proven their ineffectiveness time and time again...all documented right here on this thorough blog. A class action lawsuit is in order.

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  23. I have a full time job and my own kids. Volunteer your self you shill the center on halsted gets a million a year just for these criminals and even people you hire they quit because these "KIDS" are so violent

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  24. I know someone who volunteered there. She said that there was a theft problem at Wholle Foods. They supplied much of the free food for the Center at that time. Great example of "biting the hand that feeds you".

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  25. Have they heard the "teach a man to fish" analogy...moreover, there are few "youths" in the Center,just opportunists.

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  26. With the new Whole Foods opening on Ashland, shop there. I would suggest people stop shopping at the one at the COH if you are a clientel of this chain. Losing that store or the threat of losing it would get a reaction from those responsible for it. I suspect it could put a dent in the COH budget. Money talks, so let's have customers walk.

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  27. Doesn't 19th district caps business liaison police officer tommy Walsh have a security contract with this organization? Wouldn't you think after having 5 years relationship with CEO of center on halsted he would be on same page with police cooperation with business he serves ? Either Tom isn't doing his job or the CEO tico is an asshole or combination of both , from what I heard mr tico is inebriated on Alcohol majority of week even when at work

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  28. I'm convinced nobody in this shit-ass city has to account for anything. Tunney doesn't have to account to his constiuents, and all that's coming out of him is th chirping of crickets and an occasional photo-op of him with some senior citizens or school children. Walsh being a CPD employee and having his own security firm ... I can't even, on this ... just seems to shady and would absolutely not be allowed in other cities. And this Pfiffer guy who "owns" the pride parade ... where's the accountability on that, and the cost, and the amount of money raked in, with absolutely no reports on how (if at all) it was distributed to organizations. Just unfuckingbelievable how y'all allow this here in Chicago! I thought Louisiana had the most corrupt political and law enforcement in the USA, but dang, Chicago takes the cake!

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  29. I hope the businesses and neighbors of Andersonville are watching and learning. I hope they don't let the same thing happen to Clark Street that happened to Halsted. I remember the good old days when the biggest problem on Halsted was some Circuit Queen falling in to a k-hole.

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