After incident involving a top cop’s car, Chicagoans need to know rules apply to everyone

When Mayor Lori Lightfoot addressed this issue on Wednesday, we wish she had forthrightly explained why the police department chose not to impound a top cop’s car that was involved in a drug arrest.

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Mayor Lori Lightfoot greets then-Cmdr. Yolanda Talley before a news conference at the 10th District police station in Lawndale in August 2020.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times file

When the city imposes rules, they should apply evenly to everyone.

But that isn’t necessarily what happened after 42 grams of heroin were found in a Lexus belonging to a top Chicago Police Department official during a traffic stop earlier this month while her niece was driving the car.

When cars are stopped during narcotics arrests, the autos are almost always impounded by police, and it can cost owners hundreds of dollars or more to get the cars back. But that didn’t happen with this car, which was owned by CPD’s chief of internal affairs, Yolanda Talley. Instead the car was promptly returned.

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As Tom Schuba, Frank Main and Matthew Hendrickson reported in Wednesday’s Chicago Sun-Times, Talley’s niece was behind the wheel of the car on Feb. 1 when officers stopped it on North St. Louis Avenue and saw her passenger, Kenneth Miles, 34, try to ditch 84 packets of heroin valued at $6,300, according to police records and a source familiar with the investigation.

There is no indication Talley knew drugs were in her car. But not knowing is no safeguard for average people who let friends or relatives drive their cars. Those cars mostly get impounded anyway.

In just one example, Miles, a reputed member of the Traveling Vice Lords street gang with a lengthy criminal record that includes multiple drug-related arrests, was arrested in October 2020 after selling an undercover cop $30 worth of heroin. The value of the heroin was worth much less than in the most recent case, but the Ford Fusion he was riding in was impounded anyway.

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After stopping the Lexus, the officers took it to the police department’s Homan Square facility on the West Side, knowing it belonged to Talley, a source told the Sun-Times. A decision was eventually made not to impound the car following conversations between high-ranking police officials. The officers involved in the arrest were later pulled from the street by police brass without explanation.

When Mayor Lori Lightfoot addressed this issue on Wednesday, we wish she had forthrightly explained why the police department chose not to impound the car and why the police officers, who appeared to have been just doing their jobs, were placed in some sort of limbo.

We also wish Lightfoot would have made it clear that, going forward, every Chicagoan will be treated equally under the law.

Send letters to letters@suntimes.com.

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