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Monday, September 8, 2008

[IL] 79, previously unfit, returned to Chicago Police hiring list

...Of 221 who appealed, 79 people were returned to the hiring list by the city's Human Resources Board between 2005 and 2007... Many of those returned to the hiring list are related to current or retired cops... Five, including a former Calumet Park cop, were arrested on domestic battery charges... Four were rejects from other police departments... "If you have a tendency to steal or commit a theft, there is a chance you will do that again. You are not honest... They might be fine to work at Home Depot, but they should not have a job carrying a gun and being exposed to all the opportunities [for misconduct] on the street... If you are rejected by another police department, we shouldn't hire you," [Chicago Police Cmdr. Brad] Woods said...

GOT A RAP SHEET? STEP RIGHT UP

CHICAGO POLICE - Dozens of applicants made the hire list despite drug records, battery arrests and rejections from other departments
Chicago Sun-Times
By Frank Main fmain@suntimes.com
& Annie Sweeney asweeney@suntimes.com
September 8, 2008
[Excerpts]Some were rejected from suburban police departments. Others sold cocaine and smoked pot. A few were thieves. Others are related to crooks. One was even a gang member. They're among dozens of people restored to the Chicago Police Department's hiring list after they were found unfit to become cops. The Chicago Sun-Times explored a little-known appeals process for police applicants blackballed because of problems in their backgrounds. Of 221 who appealed, 79 people were returned to the hiring list by the city's Human Resources Board between 2005 and 2007, records show... Many of those returned to the hiring list are related to current or retired cops who spoke on their behalf... The appeals process was originally designed to prevent racial bias in hiring, but none of the appeals reviewed by the Sun-Times alleged discrimination. Former Police Supt. Phil Cline, who retired last year, fought unsuccessfully to remove the Human Resources Board from police hiring decisions... [Chicago Police Cmdr. Brad] Woods said the department tried to block the hiring of officers with gang associations or minor crimes like petty theft or drug possession in their backgrounds -- only to be overruled by the Human Resources Board. "If you have a tendency to steal or commit a theft, there is a chance you will do that again. You are not honest. . . . They might be fine to work at Home Depot, but they should not have a job carrying a gun and being exposed to all the opportunities [for misconduct] on the street... If you are rejected by another police department, we shouldn't hire you," Woods said... The Sun-Times wanted to know if anyone who successfully appealed to get on the Police Department's hiring list was later arrested for a crime. But when the newspaper provided the board with the names of officers arrested in recent years, a Human Resources Department spokeswoman said the board could not search its application files for the names. "We do not track past cases," the board added in a written response. Of the 79 people who successfully appealed their rejections from the Chicago Police Department: Eighteen were former drug users... Five, including a former Calumet Park cop, were arrested on domestic battery charges... Four were arrested for battery... Six were in the military and ran into disciplinary problems... Four were rejects from other police departments, including a woman forced to resign from a Michigan department, a man who failed a Milwaukee Police Department background check, a man who failed an Elmhurst police polygraph and a man who failed a Phoenix Police Department polygraph. Three were tied to gangs in the past... Two were fired from jobs... 70 percent of cops survive termination hearings... [Full article here]

'WHY IS IT SO HARD TO FIRE A POLICEMAN?'
Top cop says it should be his call, but it's up to the 9 civilians on the Chicago Police Board -- and they won't say why they spared 59 of 80 officers facing ouster
Chicago Sun-Times
By Annie Sweeney asweeney@suntimes.com
& Frank Main fmain@suntimes.com
September 7, 2008
[Excerpts] ...Chicago Police superintendents have been unable to fire most of the cops they have wanted out of the department for misconduct, a Sun-Times analysis has found. The Chicago Police Board has the final say on firings, and it turned down the superintendent about 70 percent of the time between 2003 and 2007. It operates with little publicity, even though its decisions play a big role in ensuring quality policing in the city. Of 80 officers the superintendent sought to fire over that five-year period, just 21 were dismissed. Thirty-nine were suspended -- some for as long as three years -- even though the Police Board found them guilty of violating department rules. Twenty officers were restored to duty after being found not guilty by the board. The 59 officers spared from dismissal included: An officer who received a three-year suspension for accidentally shooting a homeless man in what the officer said was a carjacking... Two officers who were later charged criminally in federal court, one for unrelated weapons violations and another for the on-duty beating of a man in a wheelchair... An officer who allegedly printed 13 photos of a woman from the Police Department's arrest database and gave them to a friend who was later convicted of attempted murder for shooting her and another man... "If they worked for IBM or Sears, do you think they would keep their jobs? Why is it so hard to fire a policeman?" [Chicago Police Cmdr. Brad] Woods said. "There does not seem to be any rhyme or reason to their decisions"... Police Supt. Jody Weis says he needs the power to fire officers to do the job Mayor Daley hired him to do: Clean up the department following several highly publicized misconduct cases.... "At the end of the day, it is the department which is often looked at as accountable for our personnel. We have to make sure we can discipline our folks in a manner that is fair and consistent," Weis said. "I can't overstate how seriously we take separation cases. ... I should be the final decision-maker." Weis says bringing back an officer found guilty of serious charges hurts morale and that there is always a risk the officer will get in trouble again. "Then we are faced with another black eye,'' he said. "And we look like we are not policing our own"... The mayor recently said he wanted to make police discipline more "transparent," but when the board issues rulings, it does not give a reason. It does disclose which members dissented, but does not say why. Weis said the board should, at the very least, make public a clear set of guidelines on discipline. "People should know what they should expect if they get off track," Weis said. "You have to have a disciplinary process that is transparent, fair and consistent. You have to have a process in place where, pretty much, you should be able to know what you're going to be eligible to get." When pressed by the Sun-Times, the board refused to discuss its rationale in each of the cases. Without an explanation from the board, it remains a mystery to many familiar with the system why some officers are found not guilty of rules violations -- and why they often aren't fired when they are found guilty... Joe Roddy, a Chicago lawyer who has represented countless officers facing punishment, said the hearings allow officers to challenge the department's version of events for the first time. Roddy ridiculed Weis' desire to have the final say on punishment. "Asinine, ludicrous and stupid,'' he said. "It'd be like the wolf guarding the hen house"... [Full article here]

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