DOUGLAS — A bus full of Chicago police officers took a trip to Springfield Thursday to protest the possible parole of two men convicted of killing cops decades ago.
The group of 25 officers, which included police from every district in the city, made the trip to support families of the victims and make a statement that cop killers should never be freed.
"Whether or not a cop is killed yesterday or 40 years ago, this affects all of us. It could be any of us," said one of the travelers, Frank DiMaria, second vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police.
Parole was denied for both men in question before the Illinois Prisoner Review Board, DiMaria said.
One of the men up for parole was Robert Martinez, who was one of two men convicted of killing Hillside Police Officer Anthony Raymond in 1972.
The men took Raymond hostage at gunpoint before strangling and stabbing him to death, DiMaria said.
Raymond's body was found 11 months later in a shallow grave in Wisconsin, according to police. Martinez and his accomplice Silas Fletcher were sentenced to four concurrent terms in prison of 75 to 150 years.
Martinez's next chance at parole is in 2018, DiMaria said.
The other man up for parole was Clifton Hill, who in 1967, at age 19, was one of two men who killed plainclothes Chicago Officer Charles Pollard in an armed robbery.
Pollard's body was left behind a North Lawndale apartment building, DiMaria said.
Hill and his accomplice Eugene Armstrong took Pollard's wristwatch, wallet and service revolver before finding a police star in Pollard's pockets, DiMaria said.
Hill's parole was also denied.
DiMaria has been making trips like this to Springfield since 2006 when Clemmie Johnson, who was convicted of killing Chicago Police Officer John Tucker in 1967, was paroled after serving 37 years of a nearly 300-year term.
"You kill a police officer, you shouldn't be getting out of jail," said Pat Camden, spokesman for the Fraternal Order of Police.
DiMaria says he and other officers who made the trip went only as spectators, not law enforcement, and that their presence is essential to parole proceedings.
"We go to support fallen officers and their families," DiMaria said. Such support "never loses its importance."