Illinois bans license plates bearing anti-police letter combo

CHICAGO — Illinois vehicle owners are no longer allowed to order vanity plates bearing an increasingly common anti-police phrase, the secretary of state’s office said Thursday. “CPDK,” shorthand for “Chicago Police Department Killer,” is being added to the state’s long list of letter and number combinations that are barred from being used on Illinois plates.

The existence of CPDK plates became known last month after a license plate bearing the letters appeared in an internal Chicago Police Department document, according to a law enforcement source. CWBChicago approached the Secretary of State’s office about the plates on May 2.

Of course, CPDK could have any number of innocuous meanings, such as two people’s initials. Nonetheless, the state has notified all three vehicle owners with CPDK on their license plates that their tags are being revoked.

But the letters are often used as hashtags and in tattoos to express violent opposition to Chicago’s police force.

Regarding the plate in the Chicago Police Department document, a secretary of state official said Thursday that it “is no longer a valid plate. The vehicle owner ordered a new plate after the Secretary of State Vehicle Services Department notified him in late April that the plate would be revoked in one month.”

There are two other CPDK plates in circulation, the office said. Both registered owners have been notified that the plates are being invalidated and they must order a new tag, the officials said.

More than 7,400 letter and number combinations are on the state’s list of unacceptable plates. The naughty list, recently published by NBC Chicago, includes a wide variety of creative combinations. Keeping the list up-to-date with the latest lewd and offensive terms can be challenging.

“The Vehicle Services Department monitors license plate requests and does their best to deny any requests that are deemed offensive or in bad taste,” the secretary of state official said in an email on Thursday. “The meaning of monikers or acronyms change over time, and the department consults various sources to make sure a harmless looking collection of letters is not in fact something offensive or disrespectful.”

When the office identifies a new term, any vehicle owners holding newly-outlawed plates are notified.

In addition to CPDK, the state is banning “all variations of the moniker as well,” said the official.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com