Jerry Ardolino was a police officer with the Chicago Police Department in the 1970s. That department had a reputation in those days for its aggressive approach toward combating crime. Ardolino wrote a tell-all book about his years there, “Extreme Cop Chicago PD: The True Story of the Wildest, Most Violent Cop in the History of Chicago Police.” He says at that time there was less crime per capita because people feared the police. Parents sided with the police against their unruly children instead of turning on the police. When police approached the projects to deal with crime, the law-abiding people who lived there were not afraid. They urged them to get the criminals. They “didn’t care what we did or how we did it.”
But many of their tactics were not legal. Ardolino said he was taught them by 150 field training officers. He said this approach let him help people fast.
Most of his arrests and street stops were made without probable cause. And “We always stopped people who ‘looked like’ they could be narcotics violators, never solid citizen types in late-model cars.”
His raids often weren’t sanctioned. “I didn’t need no stinkin’ search warrants.” When he did have a warrant, he would slash at least two tires on each of the cars parked in front of the location.
If a suspect resisted arrest, he’d often punch them in the midsection, spin them around and slap the handcuffs on as tight as possible. He was advised not to write these types of specifics in his police reports. Officers occasionally broke the bones of suspects to subdue them.
However, unlike many officers, he drew the line at accepting bribes. Sometimes if he found people with a small amount of drugs he would throw the narcotics down the sewer and let them go. When someone was locked up who he didn’t think was a real criminal, he would conveniently lose his memory testifying in court. He decided not to pursue a pimp since he saw it as a victimless crime. As for the prostitutes, who the police often had sex with, “We really didn’t have a double standard regarding prostitution. We had no standard.”
Many of the police officers drove recklessly while chasing someone, enjoying the speed. He “would sometimes do the high-speed maneuvers while eating a cheeseburger with a soft drink.” He said he never had an accident with another vehicle, but he drove through a fence once and hit someone. Nothing happened to him because the suspect’s lawyer was only concerned about getting the charges dropped.
“All sins were forgiven in Chicago if you produced heavily by writing a lot of tickets, especially to out-of-state people.” To stay in good with the boss, cops needed to keep revenue coming in for the city. Many cops would steal IDs from those they stopped and sell them to friends.
Ardolino hit a suspect on the face multiple times with his baton when the man tried to resist arrest, and after cuffing him, shoved him into the patrol car with no regard for him hitting his head. He hit him with the baton a few more times after they started driving because the man was trying to kick through the seat. At the station, he found out the man had diplomatic immunity from arrest. But he didn’t care, and when the man charged him, he hit him really hard in the chest. Ardolino wrote him up for a whole list of violations, not just the ones he observed, such as speeding, improper lane usage and driving too fast for conditions. The department swept it all under the rug.
One of his partners hit and killed an elderly woman while drunk driving, then fled from the scene and tried to cover it up. Ardolino says the department must have pulled strings for him since he heard his buddy merely got probation and was fired.
On a domestic violence call, when the suspect started yelling and swearing at him, Ardolino threw a TV at him and shoved him down the stairs. His partner demanded to be transferred to work with someone else, but Ardolino told him that was normal and he changed his mind. Another time a store owner called the police to report a thief. Ardolino arrested the thief, but when the store owner started being nasty toward the thief, Ardolino smashed a typewriter on his head.
Many police officers accepted bribes from drunk drivers and let them drive away. One New Year’s Eve, he and his partner quit working and hung out at a party for a while. One of his partners would damage front ends and tires trying to do fast U-turns in order to check out women. Once, when a woman called the police due to a fight with her boyfriend, his partner calmed her down by making out with her. They would buy underage women alcohol on the beat and hang out with them. They took two women they were seeing on patrols with them.
An usher complained about him and the department took it seriously, since the usher provided all the powerful officials in the county with front row seats to sports games and concerts.
The legal system was corrupt too. Those he arrested for narcotics were rarely prosecuted, due to the good old boy network or payoffs. He said at some point he got tired of being accosted by defense attorneys in hallways and bathrooms saying it would be worth his while to testify in order to let their client off. If they really irritated him, he would embellish his testimony to ensure their client was convicted. Some cops referred accident victims to personal injury attorneys for a kickback, luring the victims with the promise of favorable testimony.
One of his partners was black. However, many of the other cops would not work with him because he was black. Once when he and that partner went to the apartment of a Middle Eastern couple, the couple insisted on only addressing Ardolino. He deliberately told them to address his partner, said he was the senior cop.
Ardolino has some ideas for how to fix the problems with police today. It is possible to combat riots and crime legally. He says people’s confidence in the police has decreased due to policies back in the 1990s that eroded the quality of police work. Police today are too dependent on firearms and a large number of rounds, which is getting them in trouble. Over the past 30 years, it’s been rare to hear of a cop punching someone. But using batons, blackjacks, duct tape and various physical uses of force was very effective. There were rioters in the 1960s similar to Antifa and they were handled just fine. There is a smart way to combat crime that will avoid the lethality that the rioters are protesting.