Chicago's police superintendent retires amidst controversy


By MEGAN REICHGOTT
The Associated Press

CHICAGO, Ill. - Chicago's police superintendent announced Monday he was retiring early as his department tries to deal with two highly publicized videotaped beatings involving off-duty police officers.

Last month, prosecutors filed felony charges against one officer accused of beating a female bartender, and six other officers were removed from street duty after they were accused of assaulting four businessmen in a bar.

Superintendent Philip J. Cline said in announcing his retirement that he would stay on until the city found a replacement. He said he told Mayor Richard M. Daley of his intention Monday morning.

"Mayor Daley has given me a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to lead the best police department in the country, and I thank him for that," said Cline, 57.

To the city's police officers, he said: "I encourage all of them to rise above any controversy and stay focused on the mission."

Cline, a Chicago native, began his police career as a cadet in 1968. He took over as superintendent in November 2003 and had been expected to retire later this year.

After the two videotapes surfaced, Cline said he would change the way the department responds to allegations of misconduct, including moving faster to get officers accused of misconduct off the street. His early retirement announcement came as a surprise.

The department was internationally vilified after the bar surveillance footage of an off-duty officer pummeling a female bartender half his size was broadcast worldwide through 24-hour news channels and on YouTube.

The footage showed Anthony Abbate, a 12-year veteran of the force, punching, kicking and throwing 24-year-old bartender Karolina Obrycka to the floor after she reportedly refused to continue serving him drinks. Obrycka suffered bruises to her head, neck, back and lower body, according to her attorney, Terry Ekl.

Police have not released the footage from the other confrontation involving the four businessmen on Dec. 15.

Police had been called to the scene, but a sergeant who was among the officers involved in the fight waved them off, Cline said. He announced last week that the six officers accused of assaulting the men had been taken off street duty.

Cline, a Chicago native, began his police career as a cadet in 1968. He took over as superintendent on Nov. 5, 2003. He had been expected to retire later this year.

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