Arrest of Ex-Maywood Cop a Symptom of Larger Problems in Town

MaywoodIn another sign that Maywood’s police department is in need of a dramatic overhaul, a now-former officer has been arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman he met on duty.

The disclosure follows a series of Better Government Association reports on the western suburb’s troubled municipal government – including the police force, which has a long, sordid history of misconduct, with officers accused over the years of beating and shaking down members of the public, and maintaining ties to gang members, among other problems, including bungling the investigation of murdered Maywood cop Tom Wood.

The man accused in the sexual assault, Deon Sams, resigned from the force in April as police in another suburb opened a criminal investigation into the incident in question. He was arrested and charged in recent days. (For details, click here or here.)

Beyond the alleged crime itself, the case cries out for answers about how Maywood officers are supervised.

In November, the BGA conveyed a number of reform recommendations to the village leadership, with a large focus on the police department.

Village officials have expressed a willingness to talk about them, which we appreciate. But we hope there is real follow-through, not just pre-election window dressing. (The incumbent mayor, Henderson Yarbrough, husband of Cook County Recorder of Deeds Karen Yarbrough, is up for re-election next year.)

For the record, here’s one of our recommendations that may be relatable to the Sams case:

Maywood officials should hire an independent law enforcement/management consultant to conduct a top-to-bottom review of the police force, analyzing, among other things, crime reporting, staffing levels, promotions, resource allocation and training, with a special emphasis on the level and quality of supervision . . .

There are some good folks on the police department, but there also have been some very bad apples in recent years.

The residents of Maywood – a mostly black working-class community of about 24,000 – deserve better.

So do the good cops on the street.

For what it’s worth, Sams at one time had been a field training officer, helping train new or otherwise less-experienced cops.

Maywood is a tangled world. We can only hope that someday that’ll change.

This analysis was written by Robert Herguth of the Better Government Association. He can be reached at rherguth@bettergov.org or (312) 821-9030.

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Filed under Around the Web, Word on the Street

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