Chicago Police Department’s Under-Disciplined Lying Officers – NBC Chicago
A new report from the Chicago Inspector General accuses the Chicago Police Department and other agencies charged with investigating officer discipline of failing to adequately punish officers who were caught lying or to make false statements.
The report, released Thursday by the Chicago office of Inspector General Deborah Witzburg, found that the CPD – along with the Internal Affairs Bureau, the Civilian Police Accountability Office and the Chicago Police Board – n have not systematically fired officers or civilians from the force. who have been caught making false statements or reports.
Witzburg said these agencies failed.
“The agencies comprising the Chicago Police Accountability System do not ensure that CPD members with enduring Rule 14 violations are separated from the Department, despite statements of intent to the contrary,” the report states.
Rule 14 of the CPD specifically prohibits officers from “making a false report, written or oral”.
The OIG report found that as of last November, the CPD “employs or recently employed” at least 110 members of the Chicago Police Department who had made false statements or reports.
The Witzburg office cited examples where, in 2019, the then deputy director of the Office of Home Affairs made a public statement that “since approximately 2008, if a person has a sustained violation of Rule 14, we recommend separation”.
But the OIG report cited three examples in 2012, 2017 and 2019 where the BIA recommended disciplinary action that was not terminated.
The inconsistencies, the OIG report notes, “raise serious concerns about the thoroughness, fairness, and consistency with which Rule 14 is applied.”
“The appropriate punishment for violating this rule is dismissal. He is fired from the police department,” Witzburg told NBC 5 Investigates on Thursday. “We cannot ask people to trust a police department that leaves its members lying,” Witzburg added.
Agents who make false statements can also have a direct impact on court cases if they are placed on so-called Brady lists when prosecutors recommend against using them as witnesses because their credibility has been questioned.
NBC 5 Investigates obtained thousands of pages of memos from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office telling prosecutors not to call hundreds of officers as witnesses after judges questioned their credibility.
An example from a 2016 memo involved a Cook County Circuit Court judge stating that a Chicago police officer: “…had a reckless concern for the truth…(n’ had) no credibility in court and called the officer an outright liar.”
In another memo, a judge called the testimony of a Chicago police officer “patently false,” adding, “I also don’t think I can find the rest of his testimony reliable or credible.”
Another memo says another judge said an officer’s testimony was a “complete pretense.” According to the court transcript in that case, the judge expressed frustration with “…the testimony of these officers who are taped and lying.”
The three officers in those memos are still in the force, according to the city’s online employee database.
Witzburg said the CPD and other agencies had “spoken” about firing officers caught making false statements, but had not “followed through” when it came to actual discipline.
The OIG report also makes a series of recommendations, including calling on the CPD to more systematically fire officers or civilians caught making false statements.
In its response to the agency, the CPD said it “does not agree with this recommendation because it does not take into consideration actions beyond the department’s control.”
Members of the Chicago Police Department can file a grievance when faced with disciplinary issues and challenge their potential punishment, the department noted.
Settlement agreements can also affect the outcome of disciplinary cases.
In a statement emailed to NBC 5 Investigates, CPD wrote, “Members of the Chicago Police Department are held to the highest standards. Our sworn and civilian members must act with integrity as we strive to build and maintain credibility and trust among the communities we serve. We have considered the recommendations of the Office of the Inspector General and have already made progress in completing and implementing several of these recommendations. COPA sent out a statement that said in part, “COPA is firm in its position that officers found guilty of willfully lying in an official report or statement should be held accountable. These actions not only negatively impact the Department’s reform efforts, but can also undermine the integrity of our criminal justice system.