The City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG) has released its first quarter report to City Council, which summarizes the Office’s activity from January 1, 2021, through March 31, 2021. This quarter’s report contains details of concluded investigations, inquiries, and other activities, including:
- An OIG investigation which established that a Chicago Fire Department (CFD) lieutenant, while on duty and in uniform, repeatedly sexually harassed a restaurant employee. The lieutenant singled out the employee and made unwanted and inappropriate comments to her for weeks, and kissed her on the cheek without her consent or invitation. In addition, after becoming aware of the incident and of OIG’s investigation, a CFD battalion chief conducted an impromptu and unsanctioned investigation into the allegation of the lieutenant’s misconduct despite the close personal relationship between the battalion chief and the lieutenant. The battalion chief also made inappropriate remarks and threats to other CFD personnel about speaking to the media. OIG recommended that CFD discharge the lieutenant and refer them for placement on the ineligible for rehire list. Furthermore, OIG recommended that CFD impose discipline against the battalion chief. In response, CFD discharged the lieutenant and referred the employee for placement on the ineligible for rehire list. CFD issued a written reprimand to the battalion chief and completed sexual harassment re-training for the battalion chief as well as other CFD members. The lieutenant appealed the discharge, and that appeal is currently pending.
- An OIG investigation which established that a Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC) animal control inspector (ACI) sent unprovoked communications to a fellow CACC coworker’s spouse for the purpose of harassing the coworker. The ACI mailed and emailed anonymous letters to their coworker’s spouse, alleging that the coworker was having an affair with another CACC employee. The ACI was in a position of trust that requires credibility and sound judgment in all facets of their duties, but by engaging in threatening conduct and going to great lengths to conceal their involvement, the ACI demonstrated they were unfit to continue in their City employment. OIG recommended that CACC discharge the ACI and refer them for placement on the ineligible for rehire list. In response, CACC issued a notice of investigation as required by the collective bargaining agreement, and the employee resigned in lieu of discharge. CACC referred the employee for placement on the ineligible for rehire list.
- An OIG investigation which established that a Department of Water Management (DWM) motor truck driver (MTD), while on duty, exposed themselves and masturbated inside of a DWM truck. During an OIG interview, the MTD provided multiple misleading and untruthful statements. OIG recommended that DWM discharge the MTD and refer them for placement on the ineligible for rehire list maintained by DHR; DWM agreed. The MTD appealed the discharge, and the appeal is currently pending.
- Two OIG notifications regarding:
- Ambiguity about the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Policy concerning sexual harassment of members of the public by City employees. Specifically, the EEO Policy, as it is written, states that a City employee does not violate if the victim of the misconduct is a member of the public who is not receiving or attempting to receive any City services at the time of the misconduct. In response, the Department of Human Resources (DHR) stated it is revising the Policy and agreed to make necessary revisions to the City’s Personnel Rules to conform to any revisions of the EEO Policy.
- Poor data quality, including apparent errors, omissions, and outdated information, in the Chicago Integrated Personnel and Payroll Systems (ChIPPS), which is reflected by the inaccuracies concerning dates and timeframe of leaves, explanations of leave, and leave categories. Additionally, there was missing data or inaccurate data concerning demographics, bargaining units, and/or address information. The lack of accurate and complete employee information within the City’s centralized database makes it difficult to make well-informed personnel decisions at an enterprise level. In response, DHR reported that it is currently working with City departments to ensure that leave of absence records are correct and to ensure compliance with the Personnel Rules. Additionally, the Department has established an audit process to ensure that data entry errors are caught.
- An OIG Public Safety inquiry which established that the Chicago Police Department’s (CPD) execution of search warrants can harm innocent Chicagoans when CPD is using wrong information and addresses. OIG found that CPD’s directive on search warrants leaves gaps in CPD members’ obligations to verify and corroborate the information upon which they rely in seeking a search warrant. Further, OIG found that the circumstances under which a CPD supervisor must initiate a disciplinary investigation following a problematic search warrant execution are too narrow. OIG recommended that CPD modify its directive on search warrants to require verification and corroboration of information in all circumstances, and broaden the circumstances in which supervisors must initiate an investigation to determine whether discipline is necessary and appropriate when a search warrant execution goes wrong. CPD Superintendent David Brown agreed with OIG’s recommendations and stated that CPD “intends to amend its order to expand the circumstances where officers are required to open a [disciplinary] investigation.” Superintendent Brown also noted that he has formed a “Search Warrant Committee” and “will engage with the community to listen to their concerns” about CPD’s search warrant practices. On March 3, 2021, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Superintendent Brown announced a new proposed revision to CPD’s directive on search warrants which reflected both of OIG’s recommendations.
The full quarterly report can be found on OIG’s website: bit.ly/OIG2021Q1