Chicago Police Investigator Fired for Resisting Orders to Change Findings Against Officers

CPD officer

The Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) in Chicago, which is supposed to investigate complaints of brutality and misconduct against police , fired one of its investigators after he refused to change findings that suggested multiple police shootings were “unjustified.”

WBEZ reported, “Scott M. Ando, chief administrator of the city’s Independent Police Review Authority, informed its staff in a July 9 email that the agency no longer employed supervising investigator Lorenzo Davis, 65, a former Chicago police commander.”

“Davis’s termination came less than two weeks after top IPRA officials, evaluating Davis’s job performance, accused him of ‘a clear bias against the police,'” WBEZ additionally reported. The top IPRA officials “called him ‘the only supervisor at IPRA who resists making requested changes as directed by management in order to reflect the correct finding with respect to OIS,’ as officer-involved shootings are known in the agency.”

Over 19 months, Davis’ “performance evaluation” reportedly concluded that he displayed a “complete lack of objectivity combined with a clear bias against the police in spite of his own lengthy police career.” (During Davis’ career, he served as the head of multiple detective units, a district police station, and the public housing unit.)

Davis told WBEZ, “I did not like the direction the police department had taken. It appeared that officers were doing whatever they wanted to do. The discipline was no longer there.”

Several of his performance evaluations since being hired in 2008 show he was seen as an “effective team player.” If his team exonerated officers, top officials would be pleased. It was when he challenged shootings as being unjustified in six particular cases that he experienced pushback.

“They have shot people dead when they did not have to shoot. They were not in reasonable fear for their lives. The evidence shows that the officer knew, or should have known, that the person who they shot was not armed or did not pose a threat to them or could have been apprehended by means short of deadly force,” Davis stated.

Sarah Macaraeg, a journalist based in Chicago, has spent the past months investigating and exposing the IPRA’s role in protecting police officers from prosecution and punishment for violence and other crimes committed.

Since 2010, the IPRA has “conducted 272 investigations of officer-involved shootings over the last five years.” One case has been deemed unjustified.

Macaraeg’s investigation found, “At least 21 Chicago police officers are currently serving on the force, some with honors, after shooting citizens under highly questionable circumstances, resulting in at least $30.2 million in taxpayer-funded City of Chicago settlements thus far.” (more…)

If Only Chicago Police Treated All Marijuana Smokers As If They Were Deadheads

Tens of thousands of fans of the Grateful Dead traveled to Chicago for the final three reunion concerts, which the band’s “core four” musicians will likely ever perform. Police knew numerous fans would smoke marijuana. However, police only made one arrest for cannabis possession in violation of the city’s ordinance against public weed consumption.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported, “Chicago Police officers made only one arrest for possession of cannabis on Friday and wrote only two possession of cannabis tickets Sunday in connection with the concerts.”

“While in most cases cannabis possession is a ticketable offense, as residents would expect CPD’s primary focus was on fighting violent crime and addressing the illegal guns that threaten our communities,” Chicago Police Department communications director Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement emailed to the Sun-Times.

This could be considered common sense policing if it were not for the fact that the Deadheads in attendance were primarily white. Tickets for the “Fare Thee Well” concerts at Soldier Field were not necessarily cheap and ranged from $59.50-$199.50. So, many of the fans were from the middle and upper class.

In March, the Sun-Times reported that blacks were “busted 16 times more than whites for small amounts of pot in 2014—including tickets and arrests. And four every white Chicagoan busted for marijuana, four Hispanics were busted, according to police statistics. Those stats come despite the fact that white Chicagoans outnumber both black and Hispanic Chicagoans by a ratio of approximately 3-to-2.”

Charlene Carruthers of Black Youth Project 100 told the Sun-Times, “It’s hyper-surveillance and harassment for what shouldn’t even be an offense. No one should be arrested for having 15 grams of marijuana or less. Even the cost of a ticket could throw someone into a very difficult situation.”

Citations can range from $250 to $500.

The Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy put out a report in May 2014 that showed all of the neighborhoods in the top 20 percent for marijuana arrests, except for one, was “majority black.”

According to the FBI, Cook County, where Chicago is located, had the “biggest racial disparity in marijuana possession arrests among the 25 most populous counties in the nation in 2010.” (more…)

Single Mother Who Worked for Brink’s Says She Was Fired for Participating in ‘Fight for 15′ Protests

Brink's Security Vehicle

Darletta Scruggs, a single mother in Chicago who worked for Brink’s, was fired a week after participating in the Fight for 15 protests on April 15.

On April 21, Scruggs felt something was wrong when her company phone was turned off. She then went to work only to be told by a security guard that she would not be allowed to enter the building where she worked.

The proper procedure for termination is supposed to include a letter in the mail informing the worker that he or she is on suspension.

“I received none of that and, apparently, that notice was placed on April 21. That is not proper procedure,” Scruggs told Firedoglake.

Brink’s is a firm providing “security-related services” for thousands of businesses from banks to fast-food businesses. Such services “include include money processing, long-distance transport of valuables, vaulting and other value-added solutions.” The company did not respond to an email request for a comment on Scruggs’ termination.

Scruggs joined Brink’s in August 2014 as a “route coordinator or route logistic manager.” Essentially, she described it as an office job where tasks included customer service, scheduling or termination, albeit with limited powers.

The position was salary-paid and Scruggs was considered management by the company.

Scruggs joined drivers for routes in spite of not being trained to do so. She began to understand the frustration other workers felt when doing routes.

“It made me sympathize a little more with what the drivers and messengers would complaining about,” Scruggs said.

Since August 2014, Scruggs told Firedoglake the company began to cut benefits to workers. In one instance, vacation time was no longer based on seniority and, as a result, employees had to “earn it as they worked.”

“We started to see morale in the workplace fall and definitely an increase of anger and discontent. Of course, upper management was not very sympathetic or concerned about the issue they were bringing up,” Scruggs said.

Scruggs said her bosses would initially say such removal of benefits came from corporate. Furthermore, they cited the economy as a reason why changes were implemented.

With morale deteriorating and benefits cut, Scruggs inquired with other workers about forming a union. She was told by a few workers a union was created a few years ago only to dissolve shortly after.

Yet, Scruggs pressed on and worked with other workers to create a union. She became aware of a nationwide April 15 walkout organized by SEIU’s “Fight for 15″ campaign and told other Brink’s employees about the planned action. Workers, she noted, were interested in joining and learning more.

Management warned Brink’s employees, including Scruggs, before April 15 about unionization efforts. (more…)