CHICAGO — An officer who helped raise money for three young girls found living in an abandoned building is being investigated by Internal Affairs.
Chicago Police Sgt. Charles Artz helped raise more than $130,000 in a GoFundMe campaign for the girls — Destiny, 7; Derricka, 2; and Errika, 1 — who became known as the “Englewood Angels.” The girls were found alone in an Englewood building that had no electricity, no heat and was uninhabitable in December.
The girls’ father was arrested and they moved in with their grandmother, who had to leave her job so she could care for the girls.
Officers did a “nice thing” by helping raise money for the family, said Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi, but an investigation is being conducted because the fundraiser was linked to the bank account of one of the officers. The fundraiser was set up while officers were off duty, Guglielmi said.
The Police Department doesn’t “suspect anything out of the ordinary,” Guglielmi said, but wants to make sure everything was “handled appropriately.”
“There was no sign of impropriety,” Guglielmi said. “We have a responsibility to the city to ensure it was handled appropriately.”
Rule 52 in the Police Board’s Rules of Conduct states officers are barred from “seeking or soliciting contributions of any kind from anyone, by any means, for any purpose.”
Investigating Artz could have a negative impact on officer morale, said Jim Ade, president of the Chicago Police Sergeants’ Association, who called the rule “old” and “obscure.”
“If you’re doing something nice for somebody, and you’re being investigated by the department, then why [in the future] would you go over and above and do something nice for people? [The investigation] sends a mixed message to our members,” Ade said. “It just doesn’t seem to promote the department’s desire for additional positive interaction with the community.”
Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) slammed the investigation on Friday, calling it “outrageous.”
“At a time when we want to see our officers more engaged and community-oriented, this investigation and the policy rules that mandate it fly directly in the face of that goal,” Lopez said. “I call on the superintendent to review this and other policies that would serve as disincentives for community ownership and repeal them immediately.”
The girls’ grandmother, Dolores Anderson, told ABC7 the children have been “doing very well.”
She would have been homeless if not for the help of the officers, she said.