Retired Oak Park cop stops El robbery
Retired Oak Park police commander Clemet Harbour stands outside the Ridgeland Avenue CTA station Firday morning holding the pullover sweater and cap he pulled off a would-be robber.
Updated: July 1, 2012 12:19PM
Clemet Harbour was known as a no-nonsense cop during his 32 years on the Oak Park police force.
Friday morning, during a violent robbery attempt on another passenger on the Green Line elevated train, the 62-year-old showed he’s still got it.
As the train slowed at a station, a teen boy started beating up a 17-year-old female student as he tried to steal her iPod.
“He’s punching her with one hand and grabbing with the other,” Harbour said. “I think everyone was in shock, it happened so fast.”
But Harbour didn’t flinch.
“I was like, ‘Uh-uh, this can’t happen,’” he said. “I can’t sit around and let people do people like that. I can’t let young guys like that do what they want to do.”
Harbour, who was Oak Park’s first black detective and its longest serving black officer, retired last July as the department’s detective commander.
While he isn’t looking to mix it up physically anymore, he’s retained the observational traits and street smarts of a cop. So when two rude “punks” boarded the train at Clark and Lake downtown, Harbour was paying attention.
“One was singing, being load, obnoxious, singing to everyone in the car. And they were checking everyone out,” said Harbour. “And I was watching them.”
As the train approached the Cicero Avenue station, the two boys got up as if to exit.
“But one walked past the door in the middle of the aisle.” Harbour said. “All of a sudden, next thing I know, he’s punching her (the victim).”
“She wouldn’t release the iPod,” he said.
Harbour raced up the aisle and grabbed the thug before he could beat her more.
“I’m thinking, ‘You can’t be doing this.’” When Harbour grabbed him, the boy fell to the floor, pulling Harbour with him.
“He went down to the floor and I went down to the floor.” Then the kid broke free, without his sweater and cap.
“I was trying to hold on and he just shed his sweater,” Harbour said. It was a hooded sweater and the hood caught the thief’s cap.
When the train reached Ridgeland Avenue, Harbour turned the jacket over to Oak Park police, who called in Chicago police.
“Hopefully, it will help them identify the guy,” he said “They said they’ve had a series of robberies up and down (the Green Line).”
The girl had a red and swollen left cheekbone. She appeared shaken up, but declined medical attention.
“Clemet Harbour is a policeman’s policeman,” said Deputy Chief Tony Ambrose later Friday when he was told of Harbour’s exploits.
“It doesn’t surprise me that Clemet got involved,” said Ambrose.
Harbour also wouldn’t talk about his heroism, just as Ambrose expected.
“He was always non-plussed. It was all in a days’ work to him,” said Ambrose. “He was never looking for laurels or a pat on the back.”