Video of Elgin cop talking to loitering teens seen by 7 million

  • COURTESY OF JOSE ESPINOSASgt. Ken Ericson was captured on video by Geneva resident Jose Espinosa as he calmly and coolly dealt with a crowd of young people who were loitering Sunday. The video has gone viral and was viewed on one Facebook page more than 7 million times.

    COURTESY OF JOSE ESPINOSASgt. Ken Ericson was captured on video by Geneva resident Jose Espinosa as he calmly and coolly dealt with a crowd of young people who were loitering Sunday. The video has gone viral and was viewed on one Facebook page more than 7 million times.

  • Ken Ericson

    Ken Ericson

 
 
Updated 9/23/2015 6:43 PM

It's the not the kind of cop video getting all the attention these days.

An Elgin police sergeant talks to a large group of young people about their loitering in the parking lot of a fast-food joint. His relaxed, nonconfrontational -- but firm -- manner defuses a potentially volatile situation.

 

It's the type of levelheaded, everyday police work that often goes unseen. Until now.

The video, shot Sunday night by a 19-year-old who was part of the group, has gotten more than 7 million views, and is being widely hailed as a classic example of good policing.

Sgt. Ken Ericson is the officer in the video. He had buried his mother on Saturday, but he returned to work the next day -- unaware that his interaction with the young crowd would be viewed by millions via ViralHog on Facebook and YouTube.

It seems especially apt that in the video, Ericson applies values the police department promotes and also lessons his mother taught him -- respect others and make your parents proud, he said.

"Often you hear about more negative encounters with police, more authoritarian approaches. It's not too often you see a down-to-earth approach," he said. "Elgin is unique in that regard. That's how we deal with people -- face to face, showing mutual respect."

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The video shows Ericson talking to the youths who had gathered to show off their "tuner cars" and possibly drag race in the parking lot outside Taco Bell on Summit Street. Ericson went to the site with a couple of new officers in response to complaints posted on Facebook, he said.

In the video, Ericson tells the youths they can't loiter, but he doesn't want to give them tickets, either.

"We need to keep it safe in Elgin. Cool in Elgin," he says in the video.

The video was recorded by Geneva resident Jose Espinosa, a former Elgin resident and car enthusiast.

"I was there just hanging out with a friend and admiring some local cars," he said. "I taped the video because there was some negative posts on Facebook the previous Sunday regarding our social event."

Espinosa said he believes the video went viral "because the media is flooded with videos of police and police brutality. "It's nice to see something new," he said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"The police are there to do their job," he added. "As long as you do what you are supposed to do as a civilian and stay between the lines, you shouldn't have any issues."

Ericson said he simply talked to the youths as he'd want to be talked to.

"Sometimes you have to look at policing from a parent perspective. New officers think that if you see a problem, you have to write tickets and make arrests -- but you don't always want to do that. You want to work with people."

Police Chief Jeff Swoboda agreed.

"In this day and age, people aren't used to showing videos showing police officers do what they do the majority of the time -- which is talk to people like this," he said.

"I've worked with Ken for years; this is Ken. But the other part of it is, it's other Elgin officers as well. It's kind of what's expected. He spoke to those people how Elgin officers speak to people."

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