Brick-tossing at vehicles gets faint police concern

October 12, 1994|By MIKE ROYKO

The brick bounced off the windshield of Richard Jenkins' car just before he got to the Chicago Skyway toll booths. He saw the two teen-agers who threw it from the side of the highway.

"I was lucky because my Volvo is like an armored tank but, I figured that if it happened to someone else, they could be killed. Some housewife with a baby in her car, they could really be hurt."

So he told the man in the toll booth. And he said the toll collector responded: "You too? This has been going on for three days."

"He tells me to go over to a Chicago police officer who is parked there, writing an accident report for two trucks that bumped each other."

That's what Jenkins did, fully expecting the cop to roar away in pursuit of the brick-throwing louts.

This is what happened next, according to Jenkins, 28, an airline pilot from Lansing, Mich.:

"I told the policeman sitting in his car what happened. He told me to wait, that he's writing an accident report.

"So I waited. After about 20 minutes, a big semi pulls in and the windshield is smashed.

"The driver gets out and says that the thing came through the windshield and landed next to him.

"So now we're both waiting for this cop. He's still in the car taking this other accident report.

"Finally he rolls down the window and says, 'I don't have any report forms for that. I'll call in and have another car come out here with the paperwork.'

"I said: 'I don't care about a report. I want someone to go there and do something about those kids before someone gets killed.' And the truck driver says the same thing. We were both getting teed off."

L Then a pickup truck pulled in, and three workmen jumped out.

"They had glass all over them. One of them was bleeding from a cut on his shoulder.

"They said they were doing about 60 when the brick hit their windshield. Boy, were they lucky. The brick went right through the windshield, between two of their heads, and it went out the back window. Boom, boom. Just like that. It was a miracle one of them wasn't beheaded.

"From what they said, it was the same kids that did it to me and the other truck driver.

"I'm frantic by now because I figure somebody is going to get killed and this is a life-and-death situation.

"So I go over to that same cop again and this time he says: 'There will be two patrol cars that should be coming.' Then he gets on his car phone, and when he finishes talking, he says: 'Listen, I don't have the paperwork here to make this report for you. If you want to report this, you have to go inside that restaurant and call 911.'

"Now I am really mad. He's talking about making out a report, but what I want is someone to go there and arrest these kids before they get someone killed.

"Then he told me that he couldn't do anything, that he's some kind of traffic services car, and that he called it in, but they weren't responding.

"There he is, a cop. He had a badge and a gun and a police car. But he said he couldn't do anything. It was unbelievable.

"So I went and got on the phone to 911. I would have done that an hour earlier if the cop had told me to do it. The person who answered at 911 says: 'Oh, that's the state police.' But I told them that it was a Chicago cop and they transferred me to a non-emergency number, but I hung up.

"Then I called back on 911 and told them I was really mad, that three of us had been hit by bricks, and that I was concerned about public safety.

"They asked me for my name and where I was. Then they said they'd handle it, and they hung up."

What we need here is a thrilling and satisfying end to this story. Maybe with the cops roaring up, arresting the brick-throwers, and the victims pointing at them and saying, "Yes, they are the barbarians who tried to get us killed." And the parents showing up at the police station and smacking their kids on the head.

I'm sorry, but no.

"I waited awhile," Jenkins said, "but nothing happened.

"So I went home. It was very frustrating, but I'm glad nobody was killed."

The taxpayers should be glad, too, because if someone had been killed or seriously injured, someone could sue the Police Department for failure to get off its butt. And with Jenkins as a witness, they'd collect a fortune.

Jenkins, at our suggestion, filed a complaint with the police. And the commanding officer of the traffic unit said he would investigate it.

That's nice. But in the meantime the city might put up a sign near the Skyway that says:

"Welcome to Chicago.

"And duck."

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