Gary cop in trouble after appearing in video where people flash guns
BY LORI CALDWELL Sun-Times Media email@example.com November 5, 2012 6:26PM
Updated: December 7, 2012 6:23AM
A Gary police officer is in trouble after appearing in a YouTube video that shows people flashing guns and gang signs, authorities said.
Patrolman Jason Johnson and his take-home squad car — with lights flashing — appeared in the video, which was posted online this weekend.
Gary Police Chief Wade Ingram met with Johnson Monday morning. He terminated the officer’s take-home car privileges and transferred him to the garage.
Harsher discipline, such as suspension without pay or termination, can’t happen until after a police commission hearing.
“When matters like this arise, our approach continues to be proactive. We are policing ourselves as well as the citizens. We will do everything in our power to ensure that any illegal behavior by Gary police officers will not be tolerated,” Ingram wrote in an email sent by city spokeswoman Chelsea Whittington.
The video shows the making of a rap video. It shows a cameraman filming a rapper — with Johnson’s squad car as a prop in the background.
The squad is parked at an angle, its lights flashing while the singer moves back and forth in front of it. In one shot, he leans against the front fender.
And while the singer moves around and gestures, others take turns flashing gang signs and displaying weapons.
“We’re smoking weed with the police outside,” says one man to the camera.
Just 42 seconds into the four-minute video, viewers get a glimpse of Johnson in his uniform, watching the rap artist.
Chief Ingram, in his email, said mandatory ethics classes are set for next week.
Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said, “This goes beyond ethics. This has to do with character. It is our intent to take aggressive measures to confirm what we already know — that the overwhelming majority of the members of the Gary Police Department are hardworking and law-abiding.”
It’s not the first problem with Gary cops in recent years.
Laron Leslie was fired after testing positive for marijuana when he crashed his take-home squad; David Finley resigned after he was charged in federal court with dealing cocaine and marijuana; and Marla Guye was arrested Oct. 23 in Oklahoma when police allegedly found 48 pounds of marijuana in the car she rented with her boyfriend.
Those three, and Johnson, were hired in July 2009 by Chief Reginald Harris in the second wave of all-Gary recruits, the result of former Mayor Rudy Clay’s push to change the city ordinance governing hiring procedures.
Previously, the chief selected new officers based on where they scored on a battery of tests.
Johnson could not be reached for comment.