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Aldermen enraged CPD officers with history of lying allowed to remain on force

Aldermen enraged CPD officers with history of lying allowed to remain on force
Aldermen enraged CPD officers with history of lying allowed to remain on force 02:55

CHICAGO (CBS) -- More than 100 Chicago police officers found to have a history of making false reports were not fired as a result of "structural failures" inside the department, according to a report by the city's Inspector General.

Some of those officers instead have been promoted many times over.

Members of the City Council Ethics Committee were briefed on that May report on Thursday.

Many times the officers' infractions were expunged from records, which could open the city up to future liability if an officer with a false police report allegation is called to testify in court. It could put their judgment, the reputation of CPD, and the case being brought against a defendant into question.

Inside CPD is what's called Rule 14, prohibiting officers from making a false report.

A report released by Inspector General Deborah Witzburg's office in May outlines the problem, highlighting a neighbor war from 2001.

A neighbor accused an officer of grabbing them by the neck, and shoving them to the ground during an argument. The inspector general's office said the officer also fired a pellet gun.

The city's Office of Professional Standards – which at the time was tasked with investigating police misconduct – backed up the neighbor's account, finding "the accused member violated Rule 14 by filing a false report against their neighbor, resulting in the neighbor being arrested for simple assault."

"An additional allegation of a Rule 14 violation was sustained against the member for providing a false statement when they denied firing the pellet gun, despite video evidence," OPS found.

The officer challenged a recommended 20-day suspension, but the punishment was upheld.

The case was just one of 110 examples of Chicago police officers — as of last fall — with a history of filing false police reports, according to the inspector general.

Two of those 110 were later given CPD promotions. One was promoted three times. Some are now training other officers. 

"The fact that some of those officers with Rule 14 [violations] could be training other officers is a huge concern," said Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th).

Members of the City's Council Committee on Ethics and Government Oversight were enraged by details they said put bad cops in positions where their testimony in criminal cases could upend a prosecution.

"That has negative implications for their ability to participate in criminal proceedings … if that gets to them, and then someone seeks to impeach them on the stand, which i think is a situation none of us want to be in," said Ald. Matt Martin (47th).

The fix? The inspector general's office said officers found to have violated Rule 14 should be fired.

The officer involved in that neighbor war remains on the force 22 years later, as an active bike officer. The officer also is assigned to CPD's Education and Training Division.

It's unclear what if any moves the Ethics Committee will make to stop this kind of behavior from continuing. The committee did not vote on anything Thursday in connection with the inspector general's report.

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