CHICAGO — A Chicago man who as a 14-year-old fooled a station full of police officers into letting him drive a squad car is now accused of trying to pass himself off as an officer to buy police clothing, equipment and even a badge.
Vincent Richardson, now 19, appeared in court on Thursday on a felony charge of impersonating a peace officer and was allowed to be released on his promise to appear in court Aug. 15. Richardson didn't enter a plea; a $25,000 bond was issued, which he will owe if he doesn't make his court appearances.
Richardson was arrested Tuesday afternoon after he went to a Chicago police uniform store — dressed in what looked like police-issue cargo pants and a white shirt — and tried to buy other uniform items, including a nylon utility belt, cargo pants and cargo shorts.
Richardson told the store employee he was an officer, assigned to the 7th District on the city's South Side, Assistant State's Attorney Erin Antonietti said Thursday. But before the purchase could be made, and for a reason Antonietti didn't explain, Richardson walked out of the store without the merchandise — or his ID.
A store employee did some investigating: “He Googled the defendant's name,” Antonietti told the judge.
What the employee read about unfolded on Jan. 24, 2009, when Richardson walked into a station on the city's South Side, dressed head-to-toe in a police uniform. He was convincing enough that he was issued a radio, assigned a squad car and told to hit the streets with another officer.
Richardson spent about five hours on patrol — two behind the wheel of the police cruiser — and even helped arrest a suspect who allegedly violated a protection order.
Richardson was dubbed “Kid Cop,” but the police department received the bulk of the media's attention, with a livid then-Mayor Richard Daley and former police Superintendent Jody Weis wondering how a 14-year-old boy who didn't even have a driver's license could pass himself off as a police officer. Several officers were disciplined, and several were given a refresher course in recognizing police impersonators.
The uniform store employee read enough of Richardson's story to pick up the phone and call police. When Richardson returned later Tuesday, real officers were waiting to arrest him.
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