UPDATED 09/07/11 10:52 a.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — A sick leave scandal has erupted in the Chicago Police Department, and 14 officers could lose their jobs.
As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, over the past two years, a covert unit has been probing officers who have been on sick leave.
In all, the unit examined 1,800 cases, and 443 led to more intensive investigations.
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As a result, the Police Department is seeking to fire 14 officers, and possibly suspend 19. The remaining 410 cases will incur lesser forms of discipline.
The cases were all investigated by the Medical Integrity Unit, which was created in 2009 by then-police Supt. Jody Weis. Its purpose was to look into allegations of fraud, waste and abuse in the Police Department.
Police conducted surveillance, and also kept a journal of the officers leaving their homes.
The rule is that officers on sick leave are to stay home and recuperate, and if they are going to leave, they have to contact their supervisor and say where they’re going. None of the officers who are in trouble complied with that rule, police said.
Some chose to go shopping at a suburban mall, one went out to dine at a chicken restaurant, and a third even took a trip to a Caribbean resort, according to one published report.
“Sick leave” can be one day here or there, or an extended leave of absence, police News Affairs told CBS 2. A case does not have to be long-term to be investigated.
By the numbers, the vast majority of officers on medical leave followed the rules and did nothing to take advantage of the system.
Officers are permitted 365 days of sick leave for every two years, according to published reports.