Code of Silence: 'Don't Rat Out Other Cops'

Futterman says some officers with as many as 50 complaints against them in the last few years have never been disciplined or flagged. He points out that most cops rack up few, if any, complaints. In fact, fewer than 5 percent of the cops on the beat, Futterman's study found, are responsible for nearly half of all abuse complaints in the entire department.

"The vast majority of officers who would like nothing more than to get rid of these guys who are doing the bad stuff, if they open their mouths, the culture tells them that they're gonna be the ones who pay," Futterman said.

Caught on Tape

Jodi Weis, a former FBI agent, is the first outside superintendant of police ever to run the Chicago department, and he's trying to send a "strong message."

"We just have to send … a unified [message] that misconduct, brutality, lying, cheating, stealing simply will not be tolerated," he said. "What I've been telling the officers, you know, this concept or idea or practice that you may have had in the past, where if something bad happens I just won't say anything, forget about it. With technology out there, you've got to assume it's gonna be captured on videotape. You just have to assume that."

Does technology really have the potential to crack the big blue wall of silence?

"20/20" obtained security camera video from another bar in Chicago, the Jefferson Tap and Grill, that shows a group of off-duty officers drinking into the morning and instigating a confrontation with four businessmen who witnesses say were peacefully playing pool.

The video shows that the men were knocked to the floor, one was chocked, another was slammed down on the table itself and then to the floor, where he was put in a headlock and pummeled.

One of the men tried to make a cell phone call for help, but when an officer later identified as Sgt. Jeffrey Planey noticed, he grabbed the phone and violently shoved the man to the wall.

911 calls from inside the bar managed to get through, but a total of nine police vehicles rolled up and then quickly rolled away after being greeted by the same Sgt. Planey.

Police didn't investigate until much later, after the off-duty officers had left. The businessmen suffered numerous injuries from the brutal beatings, including broken ribs, a broken nose, a herniated disk, several bodily contusions and much more.

Futterman describes the actions captured on tape and the response to the incident as "disgusting."

In fact, there was little sign of investigation in the Jefferson Tap case for months. After public outcry, Sgt. Planey and two other officers were hit with felony battery charges. They have since pleaded not guilty.

"The big difference was there was a videotape, and it was leaked to the public," Futterman said.

Confronting the Police Culture

Some of the videotape that is making a difference is captured by cameras in officers' patrol cars.

In 2004, officer Adam Brown pulled over a driver who was weaving down a Kentucky road. The exchange with the driver, a police officer from a nearby department, was captured on Brown's patrol car camera. When questioned, Sgt. Mark Crank admitted to having "a couple" of drinks.

Crank was slurring his words, and according to Brown, he reeked of alcohol, yet he seemed to appeal for a break.

"Oh come on now, we're cops now," he can be heard saying on the tape.

Officer Brown stepped back to talk privately to his back-up officer.

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