Chicago Police Board Blocks Most Proposed Officer Firings


Chicago police officer Gerald Callahan was suspended for 17 months, but he wasn’t fired despite being found guilty by the police board on several counts, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. A Sun-Times review of recent decisions by the bolice — a nine-member civilian revew panel appointed by Mayor Richard Daley — shows Callahan is hardly an exception. Chicago Police superintendents have been unable to fire most of the cops they have wanted out of the department for misconduct. The board turned down the superintendent about 70 percent of the time between 2003 and 2007. It operates with little publicity, even though its decisions play a big role in ensuring quality policing in the city. Of 80 officers the superintendent sought to fire over that five-year period, just 21 were dismissed.

The 59 officers spared from dismissal included an officer who received a three-year suspension for accidentally shooting a homeless man in what the officer said was a carjacking, and two officers who were later charged criminally in federal court, one for unrelated weapons violations and another for the on-duty beating of a man in a wheelchair. Criminal justice experts like Samuel Walker, professor emeritus at the University of Nebraska, worry that Chicago’s track record does as much harm to department morale as it does to public safety. “To the extent that they are returning officers to the street, that has an impact on the people of Chicago and that has an impact on the image of Chicago,” Walker said. “And it has an impact on the finances of the city, and it has an impact on the morale of good officers.”


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