CHICAGO (FOX 32 News / BGA) - Driving the wrong way is dangerous, and even deadly. Yet, FOX 32 found many cops breaking traffic laws, apparently to avoid sitting in traffic.
It’s happening in west suburban Maywood near the Cook County Sheriff's Office. FOX 32 and the Better Government Association watched as sheriff's police drove the wrong way down a one-way street to dodge traffic gridlock.
Now, nearly two dozen of those officers are facing discipline.
It couldn't be clearer: a one way sign pointed northbound on Second Avenue in Maywood, and another sign warning ‘Do Not Enter.’
Yet, fox 32 saw again and again cars, many of them with police plates, ignoring traffic laws and driving the wrong way.
"They come from two blocks away just flying down the street, and the cops abuse it the worst,” said Maywood resident Gwendoly Crawford.
Crawford and Jeremy Crowe have lived on this block for years.
"Enforce the law. It's against the law to go down a one way, enforce the law," Crowe said.
The problem is that in many cases, it's the law that's breaking the law, because these drivers work at the Cook County Sheriff's Office and Maywood Courthouse on the other side of First Avenue a few blocks away.
But First Avenue is notorious for long backups as it approaches the Eisenhower Expressway, prompting some drivers to duck over to Second Avenue a block to the west. The drivers then head the wrong way down second to get to the entrance ramp at the end of the street, which leads to the westbound Eisenhower Expressway.
And unfortunately, there are consequences.
"The sheriff's car hit me right kind of in the middle," said Brianna Reedy.
In October last year, Reedy of Maywood was driving though an intersection with Second Avenue when she collided with a sheriff's police officer driving the wrong way.
FOX 32: Did you ever see him coming at you?
"No I did not see him. Only thing I saw was us spinning around,” Reedy said. "I'm from this area and I know no cars should be coming from that way. So I wouldn't even think to look that way unless I was to hear police sirens or a horn or see some light or something like that. Nothing”
Indeed, the Maywood police report of the accident makes no mention of lights or siren either.
Reedy was treated and released from the hospital for minor injuries, and her totaled car was taken to a nearby auto pound where it was crushed with her belongings still inside.
But it gets worse. For a year, she and her grandmother tried to get Cook County to pay for her car. And just two weeks ago, Reedy finally received a letter saying the county wouldn't give her a nickel, because the sheriff's deputy "...had his emergency lights and sirens on"
"The county's just trying to cover it up, because it's a common practice. I even came out after the accident with a lawn chair and sat on the corner and watched the cars fly down the street the wrong way to get on the expressway," Reedy’s grandmother said.
FOX 32: Clearly you don't think that was right.
"I empathize with her and her family and I do want to get to the bottom of it," said First Deputy Chief Dana Wright.
Wright of the sheriff's police recently talked to Reedy’s grandmother about what happened, and ordered an undercover officer to investigate.
FOX 32 watched as he took down the plates of cars driving down Second Avenue the wrong way. In four days, we identified 20 sheriff's police officers breaking the law.
FOX 32: So were those officers responding to a police emergency of any kind?
"Not that I'm aware of, no," said Wright.
Wright said all 20 of those officers have now had a letter of reprimand put in their personnel file.
"I think they already know what the sheriff expects and what I expect as an agency, to have integrity," Wright said.
The sheriffs have also asked the county to re-open the investigation into Reedy’s compensation claim, which means she may get some money to replace her car after all.