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The Chicago Police Department has a legacy of both heroism and corruption. On the one hand, the department’s officers risk their lives on a daily basis to enforce the law, protect the public and preserve the peace. On the other hand, Chicago has a checkered history of police scandals and an embarrassingly long list of police officers who have crossed the line to engage in brutality, corruption and criminal activity.
An analysis of five decades of news reports reveals that since 1960, a total of 295 Chicago Police officers have been convicted of serious crimes, such as drug dealing, beatings of civilians, destroying evidence, protecting mobsters, theft and murder.
Moreover, the listing of police convicted of crimes undoubtedly underestimates the problem of corruption in the Chicago Police Department (CPD). The list does not include undetected and unreported illegal activity, serious misconduct resulting in internal disciplinary action, and officers who retire rather than face charges.
Our analysis of police corruption in Chicago yields four major findings.
First, corruption has long persisted within the CPD and continues to be a serious problem. There have been 102 convictions of Chicago police since the beginning of 2000.
Second, police officers often resist reporting crimes and misconduct committed by fellow officers. The “blue code of silence,” while difficult to prove, is an integral part of the department’s culture and it exacerbates the corruption problems. However last November, a federal jury found that the City of Chicago and its police culture were partially responsible for Officer Anthony Abbate’s brutal beating of a female bartender. After the civil trial to assess damages, the victim’s attorney declared, “We proved a code of silence at every level in the Chicago Police Department.”¹
Third, overtime a large portion of police corruption has shifted from policemen aiding and abetting mobsters and organized crime to officers involved with drugs dealers and street gangs. Since the year 2000, a total of 47 Chicago law enforcement officers were convicted of drug and gang related crimes. The department’s war on drugs puts police officers, especially those working undercover, in dangerous situations where they must cooperate with criminals to catch criminals. These endeavors require that CPD superiors provide a high degree of leadership and oversight to keep officers on the straight and narrow.
Fourth, internal and external sources of authority, including police superintendents and
Mayors, have up to now failed to provide adequate anti-corruption oversight and leadership. The case of Lieutenant Jon Burge, Commander of Area 2 Detective Division, accused of
torturing suspects to extract confessions is the most notorious, high-profile example of the lack of accountability in the department involving several state’s attorneys and mayors. The “blue wall of silence” protected Burge and his many accomplices. Despite numerous courts overturning convictions and several media exposés, the CPD leadership and Mayor’s office denied and evaded evidence that Burge and 64 other officers tortured more than 100 African American suspects over several decades. In addition, dozens, if not hundreds, of police officers, who were present at the stations while the torture occurred or who heard about it from co worker failed to report the torture to the proper authorities.
The Cook County State’s Attorney never prosecuted a single officer for any crimes related to torture. And, there is no evidence that the Police Department ever disciplined any officer for failing to come forward with information about the tortures.
Finally, the United States Attorney stepped in and prosecuted Jon Burge. Last year, he was convicted in federal court, not for torture but for lying about it under oath. The dozens of other police officers involved in the torture cases were not prosecuted. By 2012, the statute of limitation had expired.
In this report, as well as in the previous six anti-corruption reports published by the Political Science Department, public corruption has been defined as an illegal or unethical act committed by a public official for his or her self interest rather than for the public good.
While we relied on a set of 295 criminal convictions of police offices to analyze and classify police corruption, it should be noted that most unethical behavior and non-criminal misconduct also fits the definition of corruption. Also while some non-criminal misconduct committed by individual officers may not its self be “corruption,” it is often swept under the rug or covered-upped by the department to avoid embarrassment. Toleration of such misconduct is definitely “corruption.”
Toleration of corruption, or at least resigned acceptance, appears to be the order of the day for at least the past 50 years. The department’s Internal Affairs Division (IAD), the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), Police Board (PB), the department’s top brass, the Mayor’s office, and State Attorneys have all failed to aggressively and effectively reign in police corruption. In recent years, only the U.S. Attorney’s Office has made a serious effort to curb police corruption. In 2007, police consultant Lou Reiter testified in court that the department’s lack of
effective oversight was the product of “deliberate indifference” by CPD leaders. The lack of an
effective crackdown on police misconduct can be inferred from a 2007 study by University of
Chicago law professor Craig Futterman. He found that only 19 of 10,149 (or less than 2%)
civilian complaints of excessive force, illegal searches, racial abuse, sexual abuse and false arrests between 2002 and 2004 led to police suspensions of a week or more.
The listing in our report of the 295 convicted police officers and their illegal activities demonstrate that corruption in Chicago Police Department is not confined to a few isolated cases. While people can debate whether the CPD has a culture that promotes corruption, the findings clearly show that the CPD has at the very least a culture that tolerates police misconduct and corruption.
Police corruption not only undermines public trust in law enforcement, but also corruption related prosecutions, lawsuits, defense and settlements cost taxpayers millions of dollars. Jon Burge cases have cost local taxpayers more than $53 million since 1998.* Moreover since 2003, the City of Chicago has spent more than $82.5 million to defend police against misconduct charges with about a quarter of that total related to Burge. In addition, the city paid $21 million in 2009 for compensatory damages in a wrongful conviction case involving Juan Johnson, and $18 million in 2001 to settle a case involving an unarmed woman shot by police.
The city also spends hundreds of thousands of dollars investigating police misconduct each year. Clearly these cases of police abuse and corruption have cost taxpayers several hundreds of millions of dollars at a time when all levels of government have to cut services and raise taxes.
The CPD’s heavy focus on drug and gang activity, and the “blue code of silence” both present serious obstacles to reducing police corruption. Police officers loyalty to their colleagues understandably runs deep, but law enforcement officials should not ignore the criminal acts of their co-workers. Speaking out against a fellow officer can be difficult, and even dangerous. Only a few years ago a high profile police officer, Jerome Finngean, hired a gang hit man to kill fellow officers who were preparing to testify against him. Encouraging officers to report corrupt or criminal acts of their colleagues and increasing oversight over officers is not easy. Nor will it be easy to reduce corruption when police are so heavily involved with gangs and lucrative drug dealing networks.
Proposals in the last section of this report recommend a combination of external review and internal incentives. They are based the experience of police departments from around the world and on academic studies. These proposed reforms are designed to create effective oversight structures and a culture of honest service within the CPD. If adopted, these reforms would help alleviate the serious problem of corruption in the police department.
History of Chicago Police Department Corruption
For nearly a century, Chicago’s political machines included police protection for gambling and prostitution and for vice lords like Mike McDonald and Big Jim Colisimo. In the 1920s, prohibition led to beer war violence and an alliance of Capone’s mob with Republican Mayor William Hale Thompson. While the 1930s New Deal saw the Democratic Party taking power while the alliance between City Hall and Frank Nitti’s Outfit continued to reign.
Reports from many sources, including Landesco’s Organized Crime in Chicago, Lindberg’s To Serve and Collect, Drake & Cayton’s Black Metropolis, and Karen Abbot’s Sin in the Second City, document rampant police corruption in the first half of the 20th century. After the 1960 Summerdale scandal,
“The ‘rotten apple’ theory won’t work any longer. Corrupt police officers are not natural-born criminals, nor morally wicked men, constitutionally different from their honest colleagues. The task of corruption control is to examine the barrel, not just the apples-the organization, not just the individuals
in it-because corrupt police are made, not born.” -NYC Police Commissioner Patrick Murphy
where a police unit worked as a burglary crew, Mayor Richard J. Daley hired Orlando W. Wilson as his new Superintendent of Police. Wilson, a criminologist from The University of California Berkeley, was told to professionalize and clean up the CPD. According to Ovid Demaris in his uption classic, Captive City, Wilson remarked to Congress in 1962 that of the 985 mob murders since the 1920s, only two had been solved. The Outfit, as the Chicago mob was also commonly known, was getting away with murder. Neither Superintendent Wilson nor the state’s attorney went after the Outfit in a systematic way. With rare exception, the Cook County’s State’s Attorneys have avoided investigating the Outfit, which has always had highly placed friends in the machine. At the end of his term Wilson told Life Magazine, “Cosa Nostra in Chicago was so entrenched that he had barely scratched its surface. Nor had he been able to eradicate corruption in Chicago’s police force.”⁹
Beginning in the 1960s, when the Chicago Outfit was still the nation’s second most powerful criminal organization, the CPD and the state’s attorney turned their attention away from organized crime to the new street gangs. Street gangs, not the Outfit, began to control the retail distribution of drugs, gambling and prostitution. A “War on Gangs” declared in 1969 by Mayor Richard J. Daley and State’s Attorney Edward Hanrahan, took aim at black and Latino gangs. At the same time, Chicago’s Outfit sought greater profits from its operations in Las Vegas and Hollywood, and through control of the Teamsters Pension Fund. But while Outfit’s vice operations were protected by its still cozy relationship with the Chicago political machine, the
street gangs had to cut their own deals with dirty cops. As the war on drugs progressed, more and more individual police officers were corrupted.
In the 1980s, police corruption again became front-page news. In 1982, ten officers in the Marquette police district were among the first Chicago police officers to be convicted of drug related corruption charges. “The Marquette 10” arrests were followed by Operation Greylord, a federal investigation into the Cook County court system that swept up several corrupt police officers along with numerous judges, court bailiffs and attorneys. In the 1980s and 1990s, Joseph Miedzianowski, a member of the department’s Gang Crimes Unit, ran a drug operation with several gangs.
The conviction of CPD Chief of Detectives and Assistant Police Superintendent William Hanhardt in 2001 for using secret police information to direct a mob-connected jewelry theft ring showed that organized crime could still reach into the CPD even in the 21st Century. The drug/gang connection continued into the current decade. In 2007, the U.S. Attorney’s arrested of Keith Herrera and Jerome Finnegan of the Special Operations Squad for corruption and attempted murder.
Human rights violations have long plagued Chicago. At the end of the 1960s in the aftermath of anti-war protests, the Chicago Police Department’s Subversive Activities Unit, known as the “Red Squad,” spied on legitimate, non-criminal protesters, political activists and community organizations. Originally the “Red Squad” was supposed to provide surveillance of groups such as Communists, or Reds, thought to be plotting to overthrow the United States government. Later, however, the “Red Squad” spied on law-abiding individuals, officials and groups who opposed Mayor Richard J. Daley and the Democratic machine. Like many other secret police units, the Chicago “Red Squad” investigated and infiltrated dissenting political groups s but when a group threatened those in power, the “Red Squad” would try to destroy it, directly or indirectly. Allegedly “Red Squad” officers committed criminal acts such as burglary, theft, and destruction of documents and equipment, all blatant violation of the First Amendment, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Besides the ACLU, some of the groups targeted by the “Red Squad” were the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, National Lawyers Guild, and Operation PUSH. By the end of the 1960s, the “Red Squad” had collected information on approximately 117,000 Chicagoan, 141,000 out-of-town individuals and 14,000 organizations.
In 1974, the Red Squad reportedly destroyed 105,000 individual and 1,300 organizational files when it learned that the Alliance to End Repression planned to file a lawsuit against the unit
for violating the U.S. Constitution. ¹⁰ The ACLU then filed a lawsuit on behalf of 25 organizations and individuals including one of this report’s authors, former Chicago Alderman Dick Simpson. After many years of litigation, a 1981 court decree ended the Chicago Police Department’s “Red Squad’s” unlawful surveillance of political dissenters and their organizations. Then to settle the lawsuit, the City of Chicago agreed to pay a total of $335,000 to the plaintiffs and nearly $20,000 in attorneys’ fees. And on the last day of 1985, a federal judge ordered the city to pay an additional $51,000 to two organizations and a civil rights activists who were illegally spied by the “Red Squad.”
The CPD also has a history of violating the human rights of African-Americans and other minorities. State’s Attorney Edward Hanrahan orchestrated the infamous 1969 police raid that resulted in the shooting deaths of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark. Jon Burge headed up a team of officers in the 2nd Police District where many young, African-American men were tortured over several decades.
In order to study the extent of police corruption in Chicago, we focused on reports of criminal convictions of police in newspapers, magazines, books and various other sources. Data on corruption that did not result in convictions was not available. Other officers are brought formally to the Police Review Board and some resigned to avoid formal charges. Some police misconduct is handled through a grievance process conducted by the department management and the police union. Generally, such cases are not reported in the news media. As a result, our information, which primarily is based on media reports of criminal convictions, very likely underestimates the breadth and severity of the police corruption problem.
However, the conviction statistics are the most concrete data available to assess and analyze the continuing problem of police corruption in Chicago. In addition, a more detailed look at the conviction cases reveals the strong connections between corruption and the war on drugs, the code of silence and the lack of internal and external oversight.
For each instance of police corruption or misconduct found, the following information
- Officer’s name
- Rank, title, position
- Date of conviction
Type of incident
- Description of the crime and related corruption
- Source and citation
Three hundred cases of police crime were documented. After compiling the database of
police crime, all of the cases were collapsed and coded into the following categories with the frequencies with which they occurred: Civil Right Violations (CRV) – 10 police officers guilty of illegal search and seizures,
false arrests, malicious prosecutions and extended detentions.
Off Duty Crime (ODC) – 53 police officers committed crimes while off duty. General Police Crime (GPC) – 114 officers involved in scams, tax fraud, stealing, extortion, lying, bribery, and theft.
Drugs, Guns and Gangs cases (DGG) — 95 cases including gang-related illegal drug
dealings, weapon sales and gang activity. Brutality, Torture and Sex Abuse cases (BTX) – 23 cases involving brutal beatings,
torture, sexual abuse and excessive force.
The War on Drugs
In studying corruption and in the war on drugs we find David Carter’s typology to be useful, distinguishing between what he calls Type 1 and Type 2 acts of drug-related corruption. Type 1 is the drive for private gain, illegitimate acts that misuse the public status of an officer for his/her private gain, and illegitimate goals.
Type 2 corruption has the legitimate goal of prosecuti the bad guys, but uses illegitimate means of falsifying evidence, selling confiscated drugs from one gang to another in order to build a larger case, or lying under oath to get a prosecution.”
Those officers who engage in misconduct and violate citizens’ constitutional rights would do so with the perception that their misconduct would go undiscovered or investigated in such a deficient manner or subjected to prolonged delay in adjudication that they would not be held accountable or sanctioned. ¹2
Lou Reiter, Police Consultant
- Securing sufficient evidence to convict is often difficult;
- Officers may be required to buy or, occasionally, use drugs in the course of their work, and Very large sums of money may be available to the corrupt officer. Tim Newman summarizes the problem concisely:
Here, then, is possibly the major problem now faced by those seeking to control police corruption. Those areas of police work that have the strongest link with, or are closest to, the invitational edge’ are also those which are generally subject to the least managerial scrutiny and, in the specific case of drugs, are increasingly associated with extraordinarily large sums of money and therefore very high levels of (financial) temptation.” 14
The Code of Silence
It is clear from previous research that supervision of drug and gang squad officers must have the highest priority. However, even honest police officers have difficulty reporting misconduct, and the lack of oversight on the police drug war is a major problem. Lou Rieter, a consultant to the Chicago Police and former Deputy Chief of Police in Los Angeles, testified that:
The Code of Silence exists to varying degrees in all police agencies in the United States. The failure of the Chicago Police Department to acknowledge its potential and take affirmative steps to eliminate or minimize the influence of the Code of Silence, in my opinion, is a conscious choice various Chicago Police managers and executive officers have taken and, in my opinion, represents a position of deliberate indifference by the Chicago Police Department to this disruptive issue within the agency 15
In the Joseph Miedzianowski prosecution, Brain Netols, Assistant U.S. Attorney testified that he believed that the Code of Silence was involved in all 18 criminal trials of Chicago police officers that he prosecuted a devastating indictment of CPD oversight, according to Reiter’s affidavit,
“Netols testified that he believed the Chicago Police Department was in the RICO conspiracy with Miedzianowski and in the wiretaps of the case which he played in court officers stated that they were not concerned about investigations by the Internal Affairs Division. When the search warrant was served on Miedzianowski’s home there were thousands of documents were taken from his home…,’ which appeared to be from Internal Affairs investigations. “5 16
In short, police officers do not fear being investigated by the Internal Affairs Department.
These deficiencies in the administrative investigations of complaints, employee discipline and the adverse impact of the Code of Silence, has been noted by, documented for and relied upon managers and administrators within the Chicago Police Department. The failure to modify this systemic deficiency in the process by successive Police Superintendents, in my opinion, is indicative of a conscious choice by the Police Department to continue this practice of indifference to allegations of misconduct and police abuse including Constitutional violations.” 17
The code of silence obviously played a role in the recent case of Officer Anthony Abbate beating up a female bartender.
It should be clear we do not ascribe to the “bad apple” theory of police misconduct. New York’s famous Knapp Report explains:
According to this theory, which bordered on official Department doctrine, any
policeman found to be corrupt must promptly be denounced as a rotten apple in
an otherwise clean barrel. It must never be admitted that his individual
corruption may be symptomatic of underlying disease…. A high command unwilling to acknowledge that the problem of corruption is extensive cannot very well argue that drastic changes are necessary to deal with the problem. 18 Rather than focus on individual police or a wholesale indictment of CPD officers, most of whom
are honest public servants, this report targets the “practice of indifference” in CPD leadership
and the mayors’ offices in providing effective oversight.
The following cases highlight CPD corruption from the 1970s to the present day. Together, these cases, document the pervasive and persistent nature of corruption and the incapacity or unwillingness of the CPD to provide effective oversight. All of the cases are also subjects of controversy, including charges of entrapment, pious denunciations of “bad apples,” and a failure to seriously address systemic issues. Nonetheless, these cases illustrate the different types of police corruption and abuses and demonstrate the severity and breadth of the problem.
Case Study # 1 “Marquette 10”
The “Marquette 10” case is a prime example of police involved in Drugs, Guns and Gangs. In 1982, U.S. Attorney Dan Webb’s investigation into drug dealers in Chicago’s west side led to the arrest of 10 Marquette District officers for accepting bribes from drug dealers. The 10 officers were convicted for protecting two large drug-dealing networks in exchange for money and goods for more than three years. The officers warned the dealers of police raids and even beat up competing dealers, according to court records. The Marquette 10 officers were Thomas Ambrose, Frank DeRango, Curtis Lowery, John De Simone, Robert Eatman, Joseph Pena, James Ballauer, William Guide, William Hass and Dennis Smentek. They each received prison sentences ranging from 10 to 20 years.¹⁹
Case Study #2 “Austin 7”
The “Austin 7” case highlights the need for greater police oversight. The seven were Austin District tactical police officers and plainclothes cops assigned to root out gangs and drugs on the West Side. They were indicted on December 20, 1996 by a federal grand jury for allegedly stealing and extorting $65,000 from undercover FBI agents posing as Chicago drug dealers.
The seven officers indicted and tried were Edward Lee “Pacman” Jackson Jr.; Gregory S. Crittleton, Alex D. Ramos; M.L. Moore; Lennon Shields; James P. Young, and Cornelius Tripp. They were indicted on 21 different counts of extortion, illegal use of firearms and the conspiracy to commit robbery. The investigation of these officers was initiated after authorities received numerous complaints from neighborhood residents. After the officers were indicted, prosecutors had to drop more than 120 narcotics cases against suspects because of the involvement of at least one of these officers.
The “Austin 7” officers were prosecuted and convicted of racketeering for shaking down drug dealers for cash and cocaine, for providing protection for large narcotics deliveries and for
robberies, home invasions and extortions of narcotics dealers in 1995 and 1996.2⁰0 In addressing the issue of police oversight at the time of the convictions in May 1998, the Mayor’s Commission Report on Police Integrity urged that the CPD better monitor misconduct
complaints from individuals and neighborhood groups if it hoped to avert similar patterns of
abuse in the future.”¹
Case Study # 3 Miedzianowski
Joseph Miedzianowski, a decorated member of the Gang Crimes Unit, was convicted in 2001 of racketeering and drug conspiracy for running an interstate drug ring between Miami and Chicago, shaking down drug dealers, fixing criminal cases, hiding a wanted murderer and undermining his fellow police officers. In 2003 he was sentenced to life in prison.
Miedzianowski’s criminality continued for more than a decade and involved at least eight different gangs and dozens of gang members. Miedzianowski’s lengthy record of corruption raises questions about the capacity or will of the CPD or any of the oversight bodies to effectively supervise drug and gang related misconduct. 22
Case Study# 4 “SOS”
The brazen behavior of the Special Operations Section of the CPD was well known, and
both state and federal authorities investigated the unit. Prompted by evidence that police bosses knew of a pattern of misconduct over at least
four years, the U.S. Attorney’s office took over the Cook County state’s attorney’s investigation of the elite Special Operations Section (SOS) in 2007, and began investigating the conduct of department bosses and the Internal Affairs Division.23 In the previous year, 2006, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office indicted 10 members of the CPD’s SOS for aggravated kidnapping, theft, burglary, home invasion, armed
violence and false arrest. The officers indicted were: Jerome Finnigan, Keith Herrera, Carl
Suchocki, Thomas Sherry, BartMaka, Brian Pratscher, Donovan Markiewicz, Guadalupe Salinas,
Stephen DelBosque and EricOlsen. These indictments were the result of a federal investigation
of SOS by the US Attorney’s office.”24 Charges against Officers Thomas Sherry and Carl
Suchocki were dropped in February 2009, because they could not be placed at the scene of the crime. Officers Stephen DelBosque and Eric Olsen pleaded guilty in April 2011 to conducting illegal searches and lying about it before a grand jury or in court. Officers Bart Maka, Brian Pratscher, and Guadalupe Salinas pleaded guilty to charges of felony theft, and Officer Donovan Markiewicz pleaded guilty to charges of official misconduct in September 2009,25
Officer Keith Herrera told Katie Couric on “60 Minutes” that they “pulled over motorists without cause, grabbed their keys and stormed into their homes, falsified reports, pocketed huge sums of money and even shook each other down for money.” Herrera sought to place the blame on team leader Jerome Finnigan who pleaded guilty in April 2011 to conspiracy to commit murder for hire as he hired a former hit-man to kill former SOS member Herrera. 26
The charges allege that Finnigan’s share of the money stolen in 2004 and 2005 was approximately $200,000, while Herrera allegedly netted approximately $40,000 in 2005 – all of which came from a larger pool of approximately $600,000 that allegedly was stolen in five separate episodes in 2004 and 2005. Finnigan was sentenced to 13 years in prison; Herrerais still awaiting sentencing, but could see up to 13 years in prison as well. Officers Bart Maka, Brian Pratscher, Guadalupe Salinas, and Donovan Markiewicz were sentenced to 6 months in jail, and Officers Stephen DelBosque and Eric Olsen pleaded guilty to lying on police reports.27 Moreover, Finnegan named 19 other officers who took part in illegal activities, and said that commanding officers knew about the stealing and condoned civil rights violations. Finnegan said SOS officers’ criminality was an “open secret” and while many officers did not steal, they signed off on false reports. 28
Case Study # 5 Guerrero and Martinez
Police corruption related to drugs and gangs continues to surface in Chicago. In 2011,
the U.S. Attorney’s office filed indictments against two Chicago police officers for helping a gang steal. The officers Alex Guerrero and Antonio Martinez Jr., were accused of taking orders from gang leaders and using their authority to pull people over or enter houses. The indictment alleges the officers received at least $10,000 to steal guns, hundreds of pounds of drugs and tens of thousands of dollars. Martinez pleaded guilty in December 2011 to charges of conspiracy and racketeering, and Guerrero pleaded guilty to similar charges in July 2012.2⁹
Case Study # 6 Lewellen
The corruption case of Glen Lewellen highlights both the problems of paid informants and the lack of oversight in the CPD. Lewellen, oversaw a federal informant, Saul Rodriguez, from 1996 to 2001. During that time, Rodriguez was paid $807,000 by the U.S. Attorney for information on drug dealing with his former gang, La Raza. 30
But behind the scenes, Lewellen had hatched a secret, unauthorized deal with Rodriguez, where the drug trafficker would keep breaking the law and the cop would help him, joining Rodriguez’s drug organization which prosecutors contended was behind multiple violent kidnappings and robberies. 31
According to the indictment filed in November of 2010, Lewellen and Rodriguez founded the “Rodriguez Drug Trafficking Organization” in 1996. The Chicago cop and his paid informant allegedly worked together to rip off other drug dealers, splitting millions of dollars. In addition, Rodriguez was involved with three killings – in 2000, 2001 and 2002- and Lewellen repeatedly invented excuses to keep his informant out of jail and benefit their drug trafficking organization. 5532
Even after Lewellen retired in 2002, he managed to obstruct a separate Drug Enforcement
Administration investigation of Rodriguez, prosecutors said. Rodriguez testified that in 2006, Lewellen warned Rodriguez not to speak to a drug courier whose phone was wiretapped. Prosecutors pointed out that at the time, the DEA was investigating Rodriguez’s ties to a cocaine wholesaler. 33 The prosecutors’ case against the 55-year-old Lewellen included evidence of a 2004 rip off of 70 kilograms of cocaine from a man who delivered the drugs in a tractor-trailer to
Lewellen’s warehouse in south suburban Frankfort. Lewellen allegedly drove up in a fake squad
car outfitted with police lights and the man ran away, allowing Lewellen and other crew
members to steal the drugs.34
Last year in February, a federal jury convicted Lewellen, a former narcotics officer, of joining Rodriguez’s massive drug conspiracy. 35
Case Study # 7 Osbourn and Gibson
Since 1970, 36 officers have been convicted on civil rights violations in cases similar to the arrest of Felicia Tolson in 1998. Officer Kevin Osbourn and Sgt. Mark Gibson entered her West Side home when looking for a teenager who had earlier escaped arrest. They disregarded her requests for identification and Officer Osbourn arrested Tolson for aggravated battery after she allegedly pushed him.36
Tolson, at the time a correctional officer at the Cook County Jail, was held in custody for 30 hours and was later acquitted of the aggravated battery charge. She stated that due to the incident she suffered post-traumatic stress and depression, along with humiliation, which lead her to quit her job as a correctional officer at Cook County Jail. In 2001, a federal jury found that the two officers falsely arrested Ms. Tolson and awarded her $300,000 in damages. 37
Case Study # 8 Abbate
On 19 February 2007, off-duty Police Officer Anthony Abbate attacked and punched Karolina Obrycka while she was bartending at Jesse’s Shortstop Inn, a bar on the Northwest side of Chicago. The incident was caught on a bar videotape on which Officer Abbate can be seen repeatedly punching and kicking the visibly smaller bartender. He later claimed it was self defense. Officer Abbate was apparently under the influence of alcohol. He stated that the bartender pushed him first and that the fight started after she refused to serve him more drinks. Abbate was convicted in 2009 in state court of aggravated battery and sentenced to community service, anger management counseling and two years of probation. 38
On November 14, 2012, federal jury found both the City of Chicago and Abbate responsible and awarded the bartender, Karolina Obrycka, $850,000 in damages. 39
The jury found that the police culture of impunity was “a moving force” in causing Abbate to attack Obrycka as she worked behind the bar. Abbate attacked Obrycka in part because he believed that, as a police officer, he wouldn’t be punished, the jury found. 40
During the trial, Obrycka’s lawyer had argued that police brass have denied for decades that a “code of silence” protecting policemen who commit crimes runs all the way from the street to the top of the police department. They also argued that Abbate acted with impunity. That he was unafraid of consequences was the result of the blue wall of silence as well as department’s
history of ineffective discipline action against wayward officers, 41 Officers who responded to the bar the night of the attack failed to include Abbate’s name, the fact that he was a police officer and that there was a video in their police report. This further solidified arguments supporting the existence of blue wall of silence. 42
Case Study # 9 & # 10 Doyle and Hanhardt
The cases of Officer Anthony Doyle and Chief of Detectives William Hanhardt hark back to an earlier time when The Outfit, Chicago’s version of the organized crime syndicate or Mob, had its tentacles deep into the Chicago Police Department.
At the end of the federal “Family Secrets” trial in 2007, Doyle, was convicted of racketeering conspiracy for passing sensitive information to the Mob about a bloody glove left at the scene of the murder of mobster John Fecarotta in 1986.43 Doyle was a police officer working in the Evidence Department in 1999 when he pulled up information on evidence that turned out to be a bloody glove.” Doyle was sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2009. 45
Hanhardt, the highest-ranking Chicago police official to be convicted of corruption, pleaded guilty in October 2001 to running a sophisticated jewelry theft ring that operated in several states and stole more than $5 million in diamonds and other gems. Hanhardt, who had a 33-year police career, worked directly with Chicago organized crime syndicate from the early 1980s to 1998. Hanhardt used law enforcement computers and other databases to get information on traveling jewelry sales representatives. 46
History of CPD Oversight
“…police corruptio Department.” cannot exist unless it is at least tolerated at higher levels in the Frank Serpico, Undercover New York Police Officer
The Chicago Police Department has a long history of failing to curb police abuse and
1960 – Summerdale Scandal; Police Board Created; Superintendent Hired,
News exposure of a crew of policemen engaged in burglary of legitimate businesses, which became known as the Summerdale Police Scandal, caused public to question the integrity of the Chicago Police Department. The loud criticism and calls for greater accountability led to the resignation of the Police Commissioner, Timothy O’Connor. To help select a new police chief, Mayor Richard J. Daley created a commission, which
included O.W. Wilson, a former police officer and then Dean of the University of California’s
criminology school. After a month-long search, the committee selected Wilson.
Wilson was hired, given the title of Police Superintendent and told to reform the department. Mayor Daley promised to keep political influence out of the department. He appointed
a five-member “nonpartisan Police Board, to govern the force.” The Board was given power to oversee the new superintendent and to enforce the department’s rules. In essence, the board acted as the head of the department. In 1961, the board’s rules were revised. Its authority “to administer or direct the operations
of the police department and superintendent” was not included in the new system. Powers were
restored to the superintendent. However, the Police Board acquired the power to hear officer
disciplinary cases that were previously handled by the Chicago Civil Service Commission.
1966 – ACLU develops reform plan; Mayor creates Citizens Committee
In 1966, the ACLU presented the police department with a reform plan calling for the Chicago Bar Association to review citizen complaints against the police. In response O. W. Wilson asked Harold Smith, a past president of the Chicago Bar Association, evaluate the work of the Internal Investigation Division (IID). Smith concluded that there was no need for a review of complaints by a Chicago Bar Association committee. 48
In July of that year, Mayor Daley created a 23-member citizens’ committee to evaluate and study police-community relations and to recommend programs to improve these relations.4⁹ The committee concluded that there were no faults with the IID’s operations. 50
1967 – Superintendent reorganizes IID
In 1967, then Police Superintendent James Conlisk Jr., reorganized IID and combined it with the Inspections Division, the unit responsible for inspecting departmental operations. The new unit, the Internal Inspections Division was expected to detect corruption and not just wait for it to be reported by others. The reorganization of IID came soon after detective Jack Muller went to the Superintendent with information alleging tire theft. Muller said he did not go to the IID with this information due to the lack of action in previous reports he made with the IID. 52
1970 – Creation of the Internal Affairs Division (IAD)
A police raid on the Black Panthers’ headquarters in December 1969 resulted in the shooting deaths of two African-American men in their beds. There were newspaper exposures of false police reports, charges from the public that the police used excessive force, and allegations from some that the police murdered the victims. The ACLU renewed its call for civilian involvement in police oversight.53
Superintendent Conlisk nixed the idea of including civilian employees in the IID, and based on a study by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, once again reorganized IID. In 1970, a new Internal Affairs Division (IAD) was created with the task of investigating allegations of police misconduct. A separate Inspections Division was created to execute the inspectional function.s 54
1972 – Commission on Human Relations given a role
Due to easing community dissatisfactions with how police oversig was handled, in
1972 the Mayor called a conference of civic leaders to discuss the problem of police-community relations. At the conference Superintendent Conlisk said the Chicago Commission of Human Relations would be assigned to review IAD files and if necessary re-investigate certain cases. This is the first time a civilian entity was given the opportunity to review and perform its own investigations of the Chicago Police Department. The Commission was not given direct disciplinary authority, only the power to recommend possible disciplinary actions.55
1973 – Knoohuizen Report
In 1973, the Chicago Law Enforcement Study Group analyzed the Police Board and how it was performing its four main functions: 1) Budget adoption; 2) adoption of rules and regulations; 3) nominating superintendent candidates; and 4) police officer discipline. The report, authored by Ralph Knoohuizen found that the Board only effectively handled discipline and that its other duties were mostly for show. 56
1974 – The Office of Professional Standards created
In 1974 Superintendent James Rochford created the Office of Professional Standards (OPS) again combining investigative and inspectional functions in a single agency. OPS did not have subpoena power, did not hold public hearings, and was not asked to make policy recommendations.57
Superintendent Rochford proposed that the handling of police misconduct cases be placed directly under his command, and that OPS hire civilian investigators. However, the investigators could be ex-police officers as long as they were not from CPD. OPS relied on the police department to notify them when they received complaints. OPS and CPD homicide
detectives collaborated on shooting investigations. Critics claimed that OPS often adopted the 59
homicide detectives’ investigative findings as their own. OPS failed for two decades to bring charges against Jon Burge, although multiple victims and civil rights groups had demanded action.
1992 – Five year statute is implemented
In response to complaints about the charges against Burge, in 1992, the State Legislature passed a five-year statute of limitations for administrative proceedings. 50
2006 – Futterman documents “Chicago Police Department’s Broken System”
Craig B. Futterman, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School and two colleagues, published a report in 2006 analyzing 10,149 complaints of excessive force, illegal searches, racial abuse, sexual abuse and false arrest filed by civilians between 2002 and 2004. Futterman and his team found that:
- only 19 of the 10,149 complaints led to a suspension of a week or more
- the chance of meaningful discipline for a police brutality complaint was less than 3 in a
- only 1 of 3,837 charges of illegal searches led to meaningful discipline – over a three-year period, not a single charge of false arrest – planting of drugs, guns,
etc.- led to an incident of meaningful discipline.
2007 – Independent Police Review Authority created
Mayor Richard M. Daley in 2007 responded complaints about police misconduct and how the Police Department handled them. He created the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) to replace OPS. The IPRA was assigned to investigate allegations against police officers, including excessive force, domestic violence, coercion, and biased-based verbal abuse. It also was given the responsibility to investigate discharges of firearms and Tasers, and extraordinary occurrences involving individuals in police custody, regardless of the existence of a complaint. IPRA was also given the intake responsibility for all complaints, from within the department and from community members.
2009 – Value of the Police Board doubted by the Chicago Justice Project
The Chicago Justice Project studied Police Board decision in 310 cases in which the Superintendent sought termination of either sworn officers or civilian employees over a 10-year period from 1999 through 2008. The study was authored by Tracy Siska, the project’s executive director, and by research assistant Sherie Arriazola. They found that the Police Board upheld the recommended discipline of the Superintendent in agreement with IAD or IPRA in only 37 percent of the cases of sworn officers. They also found that in 20 percent of the cases involving sworn officers, the policemen were returned to work without any discipline at all.
The authors questioned why police discipline is still the responsibility of the Police Board. “Looking at the numbers generated in our study,” they said, “it is hard to see how the board serves the public interest by retaining two thirds of the officers the Superintendent is trying to fire.” 62
2013 – Police Board still struggling
Today there are still major concerns of accountability and transparency for the Police Board. It still has problems of transparency and difficulty earning a reputation as a fair and just decision maker. However, even if the Police Board were effective, efficient, transparent, and accountable, it only addresses one aspect of police oversight, the individual officer. Though this is important and necessary, there is more to police oversight than the specific behavior of an individual officer. Every aspect that influences an officer needs to be addressed, from training to advancement to discipline.
Discussion of Reform Approaches
Ignascio Cano, who researched ways to fight police corruption in Brazil and South Africa, recommends both External Review and Internal Incentives. He proposed that: 1. Internal affairs units must report to bodies outside the bureaucratic hierarchy of the police.
- Officers who report misconduct need substantial financial and professional rewards
and strict protection from retaliation within the department. 3. The process of making complaints within the department must be strictly confidential.
- Internal reviews need to be complemented by external bodies with power of subpoena and a process to turn complaints into prosecution.
In South Africa their anti-corruption report stressed three major themes for policing: 1. Enhancing internal accountability by establishing effective systems to receive and deal with public complaints, through dedicated internal capacity to investigate allegations of police abuse and criminality, and improve the management of discipline throughout the organization.
- Promoting organizational integrity by fostering a culture that adheres to the South
African Police Service Code of Conduct and Code of Ethics, that respect the Constitution and that puts service to the people first. 3. Mobilizing community support by encouraging communities to promote professional, honest, corruption-free policing by recognizing and supporting good police conduct and
reporting all incidences of poor service or police criminality.” We have incorporated these international experiences in dealing with police corruption in
making our recommendations for reform of the Chicago police department.
Summary of the Chicago Problem
The problem of police corruption in Chicago is not simply that there are occasional flawed police officers. Nearly all officers join the police force because they desire to serve and protect not serve and collect. By far, most officers are law-abiding, dedicated public servants.
The real problem is that an embarrassingly large number police officers violate citizens’ rights, engage in corruption and commit crimes while escaping detection and avoiding discipline or prosecution for many years. The “code of silence” and “deliberate indifference” have prevented police supervisors and civilian authorities from effectively eliminating police corruption.
Today, the major source of police corruption is the war on drugs. While the public has many different ideas on the solution to the drug issue, the strong demand for drugs means that many people will risk the dangers of trafficking. Violence will continue as a way to settle disputes. The large amounts of money involved mean that police corruption will remain endemic as long as current policies continue.
Police superintendents and mayors typically denounce each new case as another “bad apple,” and have failed to establish meaningful internal reforms or effective oversight. Fraternal Order of Police leadership and members of the City Council have repeatedly opposed establishing a powerful independent Police Review Board.
Recommendations for Chicago Internal Leadership, Reforms and Incentives
- The Police Superintendent must take the lead in promoting professional behavior through out the police force. He should make curbing police corruption a priority and create rules and procedures that punish corruption and reward integrity.
- The Police Board should provide greater transparency by explaining its decisions in plain English on its web site. Currently the decisions are on the web site but they are often expressed in legal language that can be difficult for the average person to comprehend. The full legal findings should also be posted on the web site.
- Independent Police Review Authority should report on the status of its investigations and Bureau of International Affairs should report the cases referred to the state’s attorney for prosecution.
- The Police Department should provide special recognition, accommodations and promotions, to officers for providing information leading to the successful prosecution of police officer corruption. “Meritorious Promotion” currently used within the department should include promotions for officers who report criminal conduct of police officers. Officers who choose to
serve in the Bureau of Internal Affairs will be prioritized for promotion and will not be compelled to return to their old units after their service in BIA is complete. misconduct they observe. The Police Code of Ethics and Department Rules should be strengthened to require that officers must promptly report any crime or unlawful action
- CPD must punish officers who do not report police corruption, brutality, and other
committed by a fellow police officer. Article Five, Rule 21 of the Rules and Regulations of the
Chicago Police Department should be amended to read: “Failure to report promptly to the
Department any information including violations of the law by police officers.”
- The Department should require and provide more extensive ethics training for officers. Training in issues of accountability for sergeants and front-line supervisors should be increased. This training needs to teach sergeants how to quickly recognize ethical problems of officers, particularly in the war on drugs, how to advise them, and how to hold them accountable.
External Review and Oversight
- The Mayor and City Council should enact legislation to replace the current appointed Police Board with either:
A. a democratically elected civilian Police Board, or
B. a new appointed board with such high caliber members as good-government advocates and civil right leaders, former federal prosecutors, inspector generals, or respected former public defenders or eminent retired judges. In either case, the new board’s purview must not be limited to cases referred by the
Superintendent or IPRA and appeals from individual officers. It also should have the power hire
special inspectors to conduct investigations. And, it must be empowered to refer cases to the
State’s Attorney and U.S. Attorney. A call for a democratically elected police board is supported by groups such as the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. (See Appendix VI.)
- The Cook County State’s Attorney must allocate sufficient resources for its public integrity unit to improve its prosecution of police corruption. The State’s Attorney should issue an annual report on its efforts to curb police corruption and establish better procedures to encourage residents to confidentially report criminal police misconduct.
- The Mayor and City Hall should report to the public the cost of police corruption and make information about police corruption cases easy to access. It should report the cost of investigating, defending and settling police corruption cases in its annual city budget and make it available on the city’s web site along with a searchable database with all indictments and convictions of police officers.
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