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North Chicago Police Chief On Leave Amid Excessive Force Allegations

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This screen grab of surveillance video allegedly shows a North Chicago officer using excessive force on a detainee. (North Chicago Police Dept.)

This screen grab of surveillance video allegedly shows a North Chicago officer using excessive force on a detainee. (North Chicago Police Dept.)

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Updated 01/03/12 – 9:14 p.m.

NORTH CHICAGO, Ill. (CBS) – A north suburban police chief has been placed on leave, in the wake of mounting allegations of excessive force by the department’s police officers.

CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman reports that North Chicago Mayor Leon Rockingham placed Police Chief Mike Newsome on paid leave, pending the results of investigations into a number of cases.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports

Rockingham had been under increasing pressure to do something about a series of allegations of excessive force.

The mayor said he is acting after reviewing 88 cases in which excessive force is alleged, over four years, including the Nov. 6 domestic battery arrest of Darrin Hanna, who died Nov. 13 of injuries sustained during his arrest.

Now other people are coming forward with their own stories and situations caught on tape, which they say illustrate the problem.

At Tuesday night’s city council meeting, some residents and a couple of aldermen asked why officers involved in questionable cases weren’t put on leave, just like the chief.

“Had it been your child, I guarantee you none of these police would be working right now,” Nancy Wilson Lucas said.

Rockingham still awaits the results of an Illinois state Police Public Integrity Unit investigation into Hanna’s death. But he has also retained retired State Police Lt. Col. Robert Johnson to review the Hanna case and five other cases in which brutality is alleged. He said Newsome’s future with the department will in large part depend on what is found.

Investigators area also looking into allegations from Chris Harper, who has said a North Chicago police officer, who was going to have his car towed for loud music, shocked him with a stun gun when Harper went to get his keys. Harper has said the officer used his stun gun unprovoked, but a police report said Harper struck the officer’s hands.

Also, surveillance video from a North Chicago police booking room shows an officer striking a suspect in custody. A police report said the man in custody used foul language.

Those cases and others have led to Newsome being placed on leave and to the department overhauling how it reviews excessive force allegations.

Rockingham had a message for North Chicago residents on Monday.

“I want them to know that I’m doing everything possible to make sure that we have good, qualified police officers handling the … streets of our community,” North Chicago Mayor Leon Rockingham said.

“It’s a step in the right direction and I can tell you this: he said that there’s six cases that’s just come forth? He hasn’t seen anything yet,” said Hanna’s cousin, Ralph Peterson.

Former Lake Forest Police Chief Michael Hoskins will run the department for now.

Two North Chicago aldermen immediately questioned Rockingham’s action.

Ald. Valerie DeVost said it is happening “too late.”

The head of the council’s police and fire committee, Ald. Charles January is not happy that the leave is paid. And he questions whether Hoskins can effectively run a department in a community so different from Lake Forest.

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