CAPS chief's ties to gang leader probed

Chicago Sun-Times,  Dec 15, 2004  by Frank Main

The head of Chicago's community policing program is coming under scrutiny for his relationship with the alleged leader of the Mafia Insane Vice Lords street gang, officials confirmed Tuesday.

Vance Henry acknowledged he was interviewed this year by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration about his ties to Troy Martin.

Martin, a convicted murderer, was arrested in May at his family's home in suburban Bolingbrook in a federal sting on the gang. Authorities said Martin, known as "King Troy," ran a West Side drug operation that netted $5,000 a day.

Henry, director of the police department's Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy, said he knows Martin because they are members of the First Baptist Congregationalist Church in the 1600 block of West Washington.

"The DEA asked me about our relationship," he said. "I told them I am an associate pastor of the church. I was ministering to an ex- offender."

Henry said he directed Martin to another church, Lawndale Community Church. The church, in the 3800 block of West Ogden, provides an array of services to ex-cons, he said.

Henry said he does not think he did anything wrong in trying to help Martin.

Internal Affairs investigating

But the police department's Internal Affairs Division is investigating his relationship with Martin, a police source said.

David Bayless, spokesman for the department, said he does not know whether Rule 47 -- which prohibits police employees from fraternizing with convicts -- applies to civilians like Henry. In 1997, police Supt. Matt Rodriguez resigned when his relationship with convicted felon Frank Milito was exposed.

"Vance's job is to reach out and talk to every segment of the community," Bayless said, adding that Internal Affairs will decide if any rules were broken.

Henry said he is in the process of planning for CAPS' strategy in 2005.

"One of the special things we will do is try to increase the role of faith-based initiatives," said Henry, who described himself as an ordained Baptist minister.

In August, the No. 2 official in CAPS, Beth Ford, was suspended after wrecking a city car while driving without a valid license. She fixed the car with her own money and failed to report the damage, authorities found.

Ford is back on the job after serving a 30-day suspension, Henry said.