Illinois (ECWd) -
This week the FBI detained six Illinois police officers for stealing money and drugs. This astonishing story was covered by the Chicago Tribune in this article. CBS News also covered the story in this article. Fox covered the story in this article. WGN's reporting can be found here, and ABC reported on the breaking news here.
These news sources reported that the FBI detained the Illinois police officers for questioning, while others said that the police were stripped of their badges. Others news sources reported that the Illinois police officers were arrested. Some indicated that search warrants were served on the Illinois Police at their home residences. Either way, this is an extraordinary news item that we believe Governor Rauner should be addressing.
After watching the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board discussion with the two Gubernatorial candidates, Ives and Rauner, one segment jumped out at us and not because we got a shout out for our model but because of the point Jeannie Ives made about the bully pulpit and public corruption. Watch the clip.
Governor Rauner remained tight-lipped about this startling FBI development, including during his State of the State Address. Rauner's state board, the Illinois Law Enforcement Training Standards Board remained conspicuously silent about this devastating news story as well. Why?
As Ives pointed out, the Governor is the Chief Executive of the State. The Governor is also responsible for the appointing of 12 members of a 19 member board, known as the Illinois Law Enforcement Training Standards Board.
This critically important State Board, according to its own website, exists "to promote and maintain a high level of professional standards for [Illinois] law enforcement and corrections officers." The ILETSB is also charged by our General Assembly to establish training and recurrent training programs for all police officers. The law further specifies that the ILETSB maintain a database of individuals who lack the necessary integrity, character, and professionalism to proudly wear the uniform and badge. The training and retraining of all law enforcement officials and the maintenance of the database are designed to weed out the bad apples, so all Illinois citizens can rest assured that the police officers who patrol our communities are the best of the best and not recycled criminals or thugs from other police departments.
Taking a close look at the database we find that there is not a single Police Officer from the Chicago Police Department on the list. Does anyone believe that the City of Chicago does not have a single police officer that meets the requirements of being listed in the Database?
Sec. 6.2. Officer professional conduct database.
(a) All law enforcement agencies shall notify the Board of any final determination of willful violation of department or agency policy, official misconduct, or violation of law when:
(1) the officer is discharged or dismissed as a result of the violation; or
(2) the officer resigns during the course of an investigation and after the officer has been served notice that he or she is under investigation that is based on the commission of a Class 2 or greater felony.
The BGA exposed at least one in this article and that person's name DOES NOT appear in this important database. Considering Chicago has been plagued with matters of police misconduct for years, we find it hard to believe there are not dozens of officers no longer on the force that should have been placed on this list. As not to leave the impression we are picking on Chicago, we suspect this list would grow greatly if all agencies in the state actually notified the ILETSB as required.
The database is supposed to identify officers that were discharged or dismissed for violations of policy, official misconduct, or violations of law and those that resigned during the course of an investigation after being served notice that they are under investigation for the commission of a Class 2 or greater felony appears to be unbelievable.
Why did ILETSB fabricate false information in an attempt to withhold this record? In their denial of my FOIA request, they invoked 16 exemptions, of which NONE applied. We urge everyone, Governor Rauner included, to review the Attorney General Public Access Counselor's opinion that proved our position accurate and instructed them to turn over the database. The fabrication of reasons to withhold this database points to misconduct in our opinion. Misconduct that should lead to intervention by an appointing agency, in this case, the Governor.
From the AG PAC office: "Because the database does not contain the identities of any witnesses or depict any investigative techniques, this office concludes that the Board has not demonstrated by clear and convincing evidence that the database is exempt from disclosure pursuant to section 7( 1)( d)."
The database proves that the ILETSB was not being honest with the AG PAC office as it did not disclose investigative techniques as they claimed it did.
Of interest to us, as it relates to our law enforcement accountability and transparency, what did the higher-ups in the FBI claim about the Top Secret Memo that was released today?
"The disclosure came despite the opposition of the FBI, which feared it would reveal investigative methods, and (sic) the Justice Department."
If you haven't read the released memo, you can view it here and please note, it DOES NOT reveal investigative methods as was claimed.
My point with the comparison is that we appear to have top police oversight agencies fabricating reasons as to why the public should not have access to public information.
That should concern everyone in this Country!
What appears to be true to form, Governor Rauner has not used his bully pulpit to address clear public corruption in our state, just as Ives pointed out during the Chicago Tribune interview. Having published numerous articles on the ILETSB and their failures, it appears our current governor is asleep at the wheel, as is Lisa Madigan who actually is a statutory Board Member of the ILETSB, but can't bring herself to even attend its meetings.
We have reached out to the Governor's Office and asked for comment on the actions of the ILETSB and the FBI's actions in Chicago this week and will publish them if he responds. If he does not respond we will let you know.
In closing, we fully support our lawful police officers in this state and at the national level. What we don't support is officers who fail to hold their own accountable to the rule of law ,and elected leaders who sit silently while public corruption continues to escalate in our state which leads to further decay in trust our citizens have in the rule of law and our government.