The City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG) has released its third quarter report for 2020 to City Council. The report summarizes the Office’s activity from July 1, 2020 through September 30, 2020. This quarter’s report contains summaries of concluded investigations, inquiries, and other activities, including:
- An OIG investigation which established that Chicago Police Department (CPD) members failed to effectively carry out their duties in the handling and aftermath of an incident in which the former CPD superintendent was found sleeping at the wheel of his idling CPD vehicle, which included: failure to conduct a competent investigation; failure to promote CPD’s goal of protecting the public; incompetence in the performance of duties and bringing discredit on CPD; recording body-worn camera footage in violation of policy; and making false statements. Additionally, OIG’s investigation revealed gaps in officer training and potential shortcomings in partner assignments. OIG made several disciplinary recommendations. In response, CPD issued a range of disciplinary actions that are detailed within the quarterly report.
- An OIG investigation which established that a Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) deputy commissioner engaged in a bribery scheme with a global plumbing manufacturing company to circumvent the City’s procurement procedures. As a result, CDA continued and increased its use of the plumbing manufacturer’s fixtures and supplies in O’Hare International Airport. Additionally, the deputy commissioner and a CDA motor truck driver (MTD) foreman coerced subordinates to engage in political activity for the deputy commissioner’s desired political candidate in exchange for overtime opportunities and preferential treatment; solicited and received money from subordinates; and utilized subordinate employees as private couriers. A second investigation established that the deputy commissioner, airport manager A, and airport manager B retaliated against a CDA MTD for communicating and cooperating with OIG. OIG recommended discharge and placement on the Department of Human Resources (DHR) ineligible for rehire list for the employees involved, as well as debarment for the plumbing manufacturer. In response, CDA issue a range of disciplinary actions that are detailed within the quarterly report.
- An OIG investigation which established that a Department of Streets and Sanitation (DSS) sanitation laborer, after having been issued a disciplinary suspension, made a verbal threat of violence and refused to respond to carrying a weapon in the workplace. OIG recommended discharge and placement on DHR’s ineligible for rehire list. In response, DSS discharged the employee and placed them on the ineligible for rehire list. The employee’s appeal is pending.
- An OIG investigation which established that a Department of Water Management (DWM) MTD was verbally abusive and used misogynistic and racist slurs toward a security guard working for a firm contracted by the City. OIG recommended discharge and placement on DHR’s ineligible for rehire list. In response, DWM agreed that the evidence established the employee’s violations and initiated the disciplinary process. However, after reviewing the case, the Department of Law (DOL) determined that discharge was not appropriate in this matter. DWM agreed with DOL’s analysis and issued the employee a 10-day suspension.
- An OIG investigation which established that a Department of Fleet and Facility Management crew stole scrap copper wire and profited $4,445 from the sale of the wire. OIG recommended discharge and placement on DHR’s ineligible for rehire list for the foreman, electrician, and MTD who sold the stolen wire. For the additional employees who accepted the proceeds and failed to report the incident, OIG recommended discipline up to and including discharge, commensurate with the gravity of their violations. OIG further recommended training on departmental policies. In response, the Department initiated the discharge process for the employees who sold the wire. The foreman and electrician subsequently resigned; the MTD was discharged and has an appeal pending. The remaining employees received various suspensions ranging from five to ten days. The Department did not respond to OIG’s recommendation that staff be adequately trained on the strict prohibition on employees using City materials and resources for personal use.
- Three OIG notifications regarding:
- Workplace culture at the Department of Transportation and additional training regarding the City’s Equal Employment Opportunity Policy.
- Restrictions on contributions to political fundraising committees spending more than 50% of their annual receipts for the benefit of a single candidate or elected official.
- The inadequacy of written policies and procedures to effectively prevent Department of Buildings inspectors from engaging in activities that constitute a conflict of interest.
- An OIG audit which concluded that DSS does not meet its goals for timely weed cutting. In response, DSS has begun providing weekly lists of City-owned lots to mow; will work with the Departments of Law and Planning and Development to help improve the City lot list; is in the process of shortening its complaint response goal; and plans to improve its data collection systems and processes.
- An OIG evaluation which found that the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) fails to release all video, audio, and police documents in the timeframe required by the City’s video release policy and exercises inadequately guided discretion in the release of materials other than those mandated by the policy. COPA, CPD, OEMC, and the Mayor’s Office all agreed with OIG’s recommendations. CPD additionally noted that the Department will work with COPA to develop clear notification guidelines. The Mayor’s Office also stated that it will work with each involved agency to address the identified issues and recommendations.
- An OIG advisory which found that COPA’s use of administrative termination in disciplinary investigations is ill-defined and frequently misapplied, therefore, each investigation in which it is used represents a risk that an allegation of police misconduct is improperly disposed of without ensuring either accountability or vindication for a CPD member. Although COPA agreed with many of OIG’s recommendations, its written response contradicted the statements of its employees and its own internal documents, underscoring the need to clarify and codify requirements for administrative termination.
The full quarterly report can be found on OIG’s website: bit.ly/OIG2020Q3.