The ongoing fight over the future of police discipline in Chicago has reached the Circuit Court of Cook County, and while attorneys for both the city and the Fraternal Order of Police polish their arguments, a judge has ordered that all pending Chicago Police Board cases be paused until at least Feb. 24.
The highest-profile of those now-halted cases stems from the 2021 shooting death of 13-year-old Adam Toledo in Little Village. The Chicago Police Department filed administrative charges last year against Officer Eric Stillman, seeking to fire him for his role in the shooting.
Stillman’s Police Board evidentiary hearing was scheduled for last week.
But that case is just one of 20 currently pending before the Police Board, the 6-decade-old body that has historically acted as arbiter in the most serious cases of misconduct by CPD officers.
Along with Stillman, five other officers are accused of improper use of deadly force. Four face allegations of domestic violence or abuse. Three are accused of shirking the city’s COVID-19 vaccination policy.
The other seven cases run the gamut. One officer allegedly tested positive for cocaine during a random drug screen at CPD headquarters. A sergeant is accused of repeatedly making unwanted sexual advances toward a woman at a brewery in Beverly. Another sergeant allegedly lied to investigators with the Civilian Office of Police Accountability about witnessing another officer punch a teen arrestee in the head.
Evidentiary hearings have already concluded in three of the 20 cases, but the judge’s order bars the board from taking action on those or any of the other 17 cases that now sit in temporary limbo.
Cook County court records indicate that several officers currently facing administrative charges have quit CPD in recent months. In the past, the department has withdrawn charges if an officer resigns from the department during a pending Police Board case.
The board’s next public meeting is scheduled for Feb. 22.
The continuing fight over disciplinary policy was born from contract negotiations between the city and union last summer. Edwin Benn, the independent arbitrator overseeing the talks, issued an award to the union that provided officers accused of serious misconduct the choice to have their cases decided by another third-party behind closed doors. Benn explained that CPD officers have that right as members of a public-sector labor union.
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