CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) - A report released Thursday shows all 15 officers who went before the Police Board last year were found guilty of misconduct and were either fired, suspended or quit the force rather than face a hearing, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.
The numbers — seven officers discharged, one suspended and seven resignations in 2016 — are part of a tougher stance taken by the panel responsible for disciplining CPD officers following a shake-up of the nine-member board in the wake of protests after the release of the Laquan McDonald shooting video in November 2015.
“The FOP believes the increase in the number of officers charged is more a reflection of the political climate in the city than the conduct of police officers,” Kevin Graham said in a statement Thursday. “The Police Board needs a take a look at the quality and integrity of investigations into police misconduct.”
Police Board President Lori Lightfoot, who was appointed to the Police Board just five months before the McDonald video was released, prompting weeks of demonstrations, was out of the country and did not immediately respond to requests for comment from the Sun-Times.
Lightfoot in 2015 also was appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to head his Police Accountability Task Force, which issued a review of the CPD and the civilian-led Independent Police Review Authority that said misconduct investigations routinely dragged on for years and that shoddy investigations seldom led to discipline for bad cops.
The total number of officers who were fired or quit amid disciplinary action by the board in 2016 was only one more than in 2015, but the fact that no officers were cleared by the board in 2016 was a rarity. In 2015, seven officers were found not guilty, and six were found not guilty in 2014, according to Police Board reports.
Dan Herbert, the attorney representing the CPD officer who shot McDonald, said the Police Board members have grown unfair in the wake of the outcry over police misconduct.
“I am extremely discouraged at what has become of the Police Board. For years, I was honored to practice before the Board wherein my clients were provided a fair hearing and the rule of law applied,” Herbert said in an email.
“This Board clearly has an agenda and that is disappointing. I suspect that this issue will be a hot topic during upcoming negotiations between the police unions and the City,” he said.