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June 03, 2006
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Chicago Police Board clears 7 of 29 cops facing firings

Frank Main, The Chicago Sun-Times
Copyright 2006 Chicago Sun-Times, Inc.
All Rights Reserved 

Nearly a quarter of the officers who faced termination hearings before the Chicago Police Board in 2004 and 2005 were found not guilty, according to a report by the board.

Police Supt. Phil Cline sought to fire the 29 officers over a variety of allegations including drug abuse, excessive force, domestic fights and committing crimes. Of those officers, seven were found not guilty. Ten were found guilty and fired. The other 12 were found guilty and suspended.

Also in 2004 and 2005, 56 officers facing less serious allegations asked the board to review Cline's decision to suspend them for less than a month. Twenty-two of them -- almost 40 percent -- persuaded the board to reverse or reduce their suspensions, the report said.

Another 18 officers resigned or died in 2004 and 2005, prompting the police board to withdraw administrative charges against them.

Kurt Feuer, a civil rights attorney, said the numbers highlight the difficulty of getting rid of the department's bad apples. He pointed out that the disciplinary cases are the outcome of thousands of complaints against Chicago Police officers each year.

"Even when the police department wants to discipline them, there is another hurdle, the police board," Feuer said.

OPINIONS DIFFER ON INVESTIGATIONS

Joseph Roddy, an attorney who defends many of the officers before the board, said the Office of Professional Standards, which investigates police misconduct, "a lot of times brings cases to the police board without all the facts. It's not the discovery the U.S. attorney's office would do."

OPS administrator Tisa Morris would not comment, except to say, "We do our investigations thoroughly."

In the report, Demetrius Carney, an attorney and president of the nine-member civilian police board, wrote that the panel is "an impartial decision-maker" that "strikes a balance between the public's interest in addressing police misconduct and the rights of the accused."

In 2004 and 2005, courts affirmed 17 police board decisions that officers had appealed, according to the report, which the board is required to publish every two years. None of the board's rulings were reversed or remanded by the courts over that period.

fmain@suntimes.com 

Full story: Chicago Police Board clears 7 of 29 cops facing firings






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