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New non-transparent police discipline

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    Posted: 24/February/2013 at 2:25pm
Forest Park taxpayers might want to ask our Police Commissioner, Tony Calderone, why he saw fit to allow a new police contract that greatly expands the chief of police's authority to suspend officers- from the standard five days to a whopping 60 days. 

Previously any discipline beyond five days suspension had to go to the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners. Now, however, the chief may now suspend an officer for up to 12 working weeks without going to the commission. And the only person Ryan is ultimately answerable to is... Police Commissioner Tony Calderone. 

According to deposed testimony by Chief Jim Ryan in the Young Lee v Jane Doe lawsuit, under the new police contract, an accused officer may appeal any suspension decision and go before either the Fire and Police board, or to an independent arbitrator. 

But without the public hearing before the police and fire board, the public knows nothing about serious allegations of misconduct that merit the most severe punishment. And under the new set up, next to nothing will ever go before the fire and police board unless an officer chooses to appeal. That's unlikely, because suspended officers don't want to rock the boat with people who have final say over how financially painful their suspension will be.

Unknown to the public is the case of an officer hired in Aug. 2008, and fired 23 months later for three separate incidents of sexual harassment, including of a female officer and a dispatcher. That case never made it into the press at any level of detail, despite a citizen complaint also being involved. 

Also unknown publicly is the case mentioned in Ryan's deposition regarding a police department employee accused of stealing tens of thousands of dollars. No details of what, if true, is a criminal matter, have been released. 

But this isn't about Chief Ryan. From all appearances, it looks as if he's doing all he can to discipline officers who violate department rules and regs. 

This is, as it always is the past 13 years in Forest Park, about Calderone. It's fair to suspect that, after a long series of embarrassing incidents of sexual misconduct and worse throughout his tenure as Police Commissioner, a lack of public awareness and publicity is just what Calderone wants, and underlies the decision to significantly change the rules for the process of disciplining police officer misconduct. 

On page 49 of his deposition, Ryan states, "I would not go against what the mayor has determined" regarding police department policy. 

From Ryan's deposition, p. 50:
Q: But the mayor has the final say on what the policy is going to look like, correct?
A: Correct.
Q: And does the mayor have to obtain approval of any of the village council members?
A: No.

On pages 57-58 Ryan testified that his disciplinary decisions are final "with their approval," meaning Village Administrator Tim Gillian and Calderone. Which means they're final after Calderone approves.

A:I do not make decision (on suspensions) of that magnitude without consulting with the village administrator and the mayor....

A: (Ryans asks for clarification, saying) Could (Gillian) overrule my decision?
Q: (Deposing attorney says) Yes.
A: Yes.
Q: OK. And is that the case with the mayor as well?
A: Oh, oh, yes, definitely. 

The deposing attorney then asks "Is it the case then that the mayor is the final policymaker for the village in terms of deciding what discipline, if any, should be given to an officer who has been accused of misconduct?" 

"Objection as to form. Calls for a legal conclusion," the village' attorney, Julie Bruch interjected.

Ryan answered, "The mayor can definitely overrule a decision that I make." 

For taxpayers, allegations of sexual harassment and other serious misconduct that rise to the level of taking six to 12 weeks of a cop's pay and/or vacation time, or termination, are not minor disciplinary issues that are rightly exempted from public scrutiny as personnel issues. 

As Ryan testified under oath about another sexual misconduct case that did make it into the papers, Nick Kozak, who was suspended for 30 work days, "... he's married to one of my dispatchers,. He was drinking in our community. And the conduct that he did brought discredit upon our department and himself." 

Don't look for such serious incidents to be made public in the future. Short of criminal charges- and Ryan has made it clear the officers' conduct was inappropriate, not criminal- serious disciplinary actions of up to 60 days of suspension will remain out of public view. 

For a control freak like Tony Calderone, who's forged a dreadful 13-year record of federal lawsuits costing the village well over a $1 million, not counting legal fees, being ultimately the sole arbiter of police officer discipline, without any way for the public to even be aware of it, is just what he's always wanted.

And now he appears to have it. 


Edited by Just the Facts - 24/February/2013 at 3:22pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote piehead Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24/February/2013 at 3:10pm
Have you brought this to the attention of e newspaper? Or a reporter for a Chicago tv station?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Just the Facts Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24/February/2013 at 3:29pm
Stay tuned.
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