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Police Superintendent Moves to Fire 2 Officers

July 02, 2002
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Police Superintendent Moves to Fire 2 Officers

The Associated Press

CHICAGO (AP) - Chicago Police Supt. Terry Hillard wants two officers to pay with their jobs for an allegedly slow response to a woman's repeated 911 calls the night she was slain.

Hillard moved Tuesday to take steps to fire the officers.

Hillard said when the public dials 911 for help there's an expectation "that help is on the way. And is this case, help was not on the way."

Authorities have said Ronyale White repeatedly called 911 the night of May 3 to say that her husband had violated an order of protection and was in her home.

Louis Drexel, 31, has pleaded innocent to charges that he killed his estranged wife.

When police did arrive about 16 minutes later, the 31-year-old mother of three had been shot.

"There is no way to tell whether a more timely response would have saved Ronyale White's life," Hillard said. "But a timely response would have at least given her a fighting chance."

The officers have told investigators they were delayed at the station checking their equipment and said they then broke off en route to canvass the neighborhood to look for a suspect that fled White's house.

Hillard's recommendation that the officers be fired isn't automatic. It next goes to the city's Law Department and if there are no objections, then it heads to the Chicago Police Board, which can either accept the recommendation or vote for a lesser penalty.

An earlier internal affairs division recommendation was to suspend the officers for 15 days. Their attorney said the officers had accepted that punishment.

Hillard's decision Tuesday angered the officers' lawyer and police union officials who said Hillard and police officials are misunderstanding the union contract and that the suspension should have been final once the officers accepted it.

"I have two beagles who can read the contract better," said attorney Joseph Roddy.

He suggested Hillard was pressured.

Both Roddy and Fraternal Order of Police president Mark Donahue said Hillard's action violates a new provision in the police contract that forbids him from increasing a penalty once the officers have agreed to take it.

White's mother, Lorraine White, said she was relieved.

"It gives me a little relief, but not closure," she said.

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