The U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago has joined the ongoing criminal probe of an elite squad of the police department, working with Cook County prosecutors to investigate why police officials did not stop rogue officers who allegedly robbed and kidnapped civilians over at least four years, reports the Chicago Tribune. The move raises the stakes for Special Operations Section officers who now face the specter of harsher federal punishment and signals that more cops could be swept up in the probe as law enforcement authorities reach back at least a decade for evidence.
Federal prosecutors are focusing on how Officer Jerome Finnigan and half a dozen others continued to operate an alleged robbery ring even though numerous citizens complained to the department about their conduct between 2002 and 2006. Last year then-Police Superintendent Philip Cline had credited the Internal Affairs Division for starting the investigation. Years passed without the police department taking any action on numerous citizen complaints before the state’s attorney opened its own investigation and charged four men last September. Charges against an additional three SOS officers were added in the following months.