CHICAGO (CBS) — On the same day when the city of Chicago is paying out $32 million to settle two police misconduct cases, a new report details the extent of police crime, corruption and cover-ups.
UIC professors Dick Simpson and John Hagedorn traced police misconduct over 50 years and found more than 300 officers in that time had been convicted of serious crimes, a third of those for illegal drug dealing, weapons sales, and gang activity.
Hagedorn says it’s no wonder Chicago has a notorious gang problem.
“The gang problem has always been serious in Chicago, in part, because the problem of police corruption has always been so serious,” he said.
Simpson says there’s a history of cover ups and indifference to corruption and crime by cops.
“Even when the police superintendent does recommend the firing of police officers, the police board overturns his recommendation 63 percent of the time.”
Among the report’s recommendations: replacing the police board with an elected board and requiring officers to report misconduct by colleagues as a way of ending the code of silence.
The department says it already has made significant changes leading to better oversight of officers and that there have been far fewer cases in recent years.
Surprisingly, the cases studied do not include the most notorious recent chapter in the department’s history — the case of Jon Burge, a lieutenant who oversaw a detective unit accused of torturing scores of defendants into false confessions. Burge was later imprisoned on a perjury conviction. The report does mention the detectives under his command.
The case studies described by the report.
1. The Marquette 10, a group of officers working in the city’s Marquette District who were arrested in the 1980s and convicted after a federal probe revealed that they were paid off by drug dealers to warn them of police raids and “even beat up competing dealers.”
2. The Austin 7, a group of tactical officers in the city’s Austin District who in the mid-1990s shook down drug dealers for money and cocaine, committed robberies and home invasions. Their arrests forced prosecutors to drop more than 120 narcotics cases in which at least one of the officers had been involved.
3. In 2001, Joseph Miedzianowski, a member of the Gang Crimes Unit, was convicted of running an interstate drug ring between Miami and Chicago, fixing criminal cases and even hiding a man wanted for murder.
4. Several members of an elite gang and drug unit were charged in 2006 and later convicted of using their badges to shake down and intimidate people. A leader of the rogue band of officers was charged and convicted of plotting to hire someone to murder another member of the unit to keep him from spilling secrets about the corruption to federal investigators.
5. Two officers, Alex Guerrero and Antonio Martinez Jr., were indicted and in 2011 pleaded guilty to taking part in a scheme in which, on the orders of gang leaders, they stole drugs, guns and money from people after pulling them over in their cars or storming into their homes.
6. A former Chicago police officer, Glenn Lewellen, was convicted of federal drug charges after investigators alleged that years earlier he worked with drug traffickers — including one of his own informants — to steal drugs and money from drug dealers.
7. Officer Kevin Osbourn and Sgt. Mark Gibson were included in the list as examples of a few dozen officers convicted of civil rights violations. In 1998 they arrested Felicia Tolson after entering her home in search of a teenager, alleging that she had shoved one of them. Tolson was acquitted and in 2011 a federal jury found the officers had falsely arrested her and awarded her $300,000.
8. Anthony Abbate, an off-duty officer, beat a female bartender in a 2007 incident captured on surveillance video and shown around the world. Abbate was convicted of battery and later a federal jury awarded the bartender $850,000 after rendering a verdict suggesting jurors agreed that Abbate was protected by an unwritten code of silence within the force.
9. Anthony Doyle, a former police officer who was tried along with several mobsters in the landmark “Family Secrets” trial — Chicago’s biggest mob trial in decades. He was sentenced in 2009 to 12 years in prison after prosecutors alleged he was a “sleeper agent” for organized crime who passed messages to a mob hit man.
10. William Hanhardt, the department’s chief of detectives, was arrested on charges that he helped run a nationwide ring of jewel thieves that stole more than $5 million in diamonds over 20 years from jewelry salesmen. He pleaded guilty in 2011.
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