CHICAGO - A Chicago police officer won’t be fired for fraternizing with members of the far right Proud Boys and failing to tell police officials he had come under FBI scrutiny, the city’s watchdog announced Friday.
Officer Robert Bakker was instead suspended for 120 days after a lengthy internal investigation was resolved through a "mediation agreement" in which he agreed not to contest the allegations against him, according to the Office of the Inspector General’s most recent quarterly report.
Bakker wasn’t named in the report, but the Sun-Times has previously reported on the probe and his association with the Proud Boys, an extremist group now at the center of the sprawling criminal inquiry into the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
The investigation was sparked after Vice reported on his ties in May 2020. The initial reporting centered on leaked chat logs showing Bakker communicating and organizing meetings with members of the Proud Boys, which has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Canadian government.
While Bakker previously told the Sun-Times he was never a member of the group, he didn’t deny taking part in a Proud Boys Telegram channel.
In the chat logs, Bakker spoke harshly of a rainbow-colored police emblem that the police department posted on social media to celebrate the LGBTQ community. "I’m not wearing any rainbow bull – – – -," he said.
Bakker didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Friday. Neither did representatives of the police department.
The department’s Bureau of Internal Affairs previously found that Bakker failed to submit a written report explaining he was under FBI investigation and recommended a five-day suspension, according to the report.
Other allegations, including that Bakker associated with known criminals and members of the Proud Boys, weren’t sustained.
The inspector general’s office urged the department to revisit the investigation in November 2020 "to address deficiencies materially affecting the outcome," according to the report.
The inspector general’s office found that the internal affairs bureau "failed to account for all available evidence," noting also that Bakker may have discredited the department and made inconsistent statements to the FBI and the BIA.
But instead of reconsidering the initial allegations, as requested by the inspector general’s office, the internal affairs bureau raised new issues. Allegations that Bakker "made a contradicting statement" about his role in a Proud Boys’ chat group and lied about attending a barbecue sponsored by the group were sustained, but others weren’t.
The bureau used a mediation agreement to resolve the case, but the inspector general’s office urged Supt. David Brown to review the evidence and consider whether Bakker broke departmental rules by lying and making contradictory statements.
Brown didn’t respond but approved the roughly four-month suspension, according to the report.
Last June, the Sun-Times reported that Bakker was the subject of multiple internal investigations, including a probe into allegations of sexual abuse. It’s unclear whether those investigations have been resolved.
He currently earns a salary of $95,586, city records show.