Barbara Van Auken is lucky she didn’t go to jail. If I poke a cop or you poke a cop, we’re going to the calaboose — especially if we’re hurling insults and curse words. But Van Auken, a city councilwoman, caught a break from Bradley University police, the same force she slams as being lax and ineffective.
Barbara Van Auken is lucky she didn’t go to jail.
If I poke a cop or you poke a cop, we’re going to the calaboose — especially if we’re hurling insults and curse words. But Van Auken, a city councilwoman, caught a break from Bradley University police, the same force she slams as being lax and ineffective.
According to new allegations, during an argument Friday about noise complaints at a BU fraternity, Van Auken allegedly poked the shoulder of a Bradley police sergeant.
That’s serious business. Making contact with another person is a battery, which is a misdemeanor. But making contact with a cop is a felony. Why the difference? Because in a civilized society we want people to respect police officers.
Van Auken doesn’t share that respect, at least when it comes to Bradley police. Though she didn’t return my call, she has flat-out said the force doesn’t adequately address concerns of non-student residents near BU.
But, Bradley police say, she went further than that with her complaints. According to the new allegations, she also swore at one cop, called one a liar and called one a jerk. That’s not exactly a smart way to persuade people to see your way of thinking. Van Auken is a lawyer; she should know that.
Much about her behavior that night is disturbing. Let’s tick through these issues.
_ At the scene, she told Bradley Police Chief David Baer that she’d had one glass of wine that night. Days later, to this newspaper, she said she had two glasses of wine and part of a mixed drink. Granted, in terms of alcohol content, the difference is not that great. But the discrepancy does call into question her ability to keep a story straight.
_ According to one officer, she seemed intoxicated. So, like any cop, he asked if she had been drinking. She replied that the cop had no right to ask that. The cop said, yes, he did.
_ The officer then asked when she’d moved into the neighborhood. She replied, “I am Councilwoman Van Auken, and I have constituents that are calling me about the noise, and this is unacceptable.” She can hobnob at dinner parties, but aren’t Bradley students part of her constituency? If she is going to hit the streets and investigate crimes, shouldn’t she assume an even playing field for all constituents before passing judgment?
_ After BU police determined there was no noise violation, Van Auken got upset and called the Peoria police. At the time, Peoria patrol officers — with the assistance of Bradley cops — were searching for robbery suspects. Still, upwards of eight Peoria cops joined Bradley officers at the frat. Then they spent two hours — two hours! — regarding Van Auken’s carping about loud music.
Mind you, there was no Animal House fracas; it was a noise complaint. Yet, thanks to Van Auken’s displeasure, a slew of cops are craning their ears to the air, listening for loud speakers rather than chasing robbers.
Van Auken asks, “I want to know, Bradley, when are you going to step up to the plate?” But Bradley won’t get into a hissing match. The school will only say that university police handled a minor matter with an appropriate response.
Van Auken can keep squawking. But her actions seem ill-thought and unproductive. I don’t know what she plans to do this weekend. But the next time she hears a crime complaint, perhaps she’d best put down the wine, leave her Superwoman outfit hanging in her closet and let the cops do their job.
Phil Luciano can be reached at email@example.com or (309) 686-3155.