A Chicago police officer was recently fired after a woman with whom he was drinking used the officer’s gun to shoot herself. After responding to an altercation between the woman and her boyfriend, the officer drove the woman home because she looked, in his words, “distraught.” On the way home, the woman and the officer decided to purchase a bottle of wine, and the officer, still on duty and in his uniform, went into a liquor store and bought a bottle of wine for the woman.
After the officer’s shift ended, the woman called the officer and invited him over for some drinks. The officer brought his gun with him, which was loaded, and, after having a few drinks, placed it on the floor of the woman’s house. When the officer went to the bathroom, the woman, who suffered from bipolar disorder and was not taking her medication, shot herself with the gun.
The police superintendant claimed that the officer’s conduct violated police department rules, and requested that the officer be suspended for 60 days. To the surprise of everyone, the police board did not take the superintendant’s recommendation, and found that the officer’s conduct was so egregious that he should be fired.
In Illinois, a police chief or superintendant does not decide whether a police officer should be fired or suspended for more than 30 days. Instead, Illinois law requires a police board to do so. A police board is a civilian agency independent of the police department which usually consists of around a half-dozen individuals.
In order to determine whether a police officer should be fired or suspended, the board holds a hearing during which it reviews the evidence and then makes a determination about what the officer’s punishment should be. The officer has the right to appeal the decision of the police board. Ancel Glink has frequently represented police boards in police disciplinary proceedings.
The police officer appealed the decision of the police board, and argued that he should not have been fired because the superintendant recommended that the officer should only be suspended for 60 days. The court, however, said that this was irrelevant, and that the police board is not the police superintendant’s “rubber stamp,” and that it has the ability to make police firing and disciplinary decisions on its own. The court rejected the police officer’s argument that the police board could not impose a harsher punishment on a police officer than the one recommended by the police chief or superintendant.
Ancel Glink has represented police officers, police boards, and police departments in a number of high profile cases. Additionally, our website has lots of information that police officers and police departments might find helpful. We encourage you to contact us with any questions relating to police conduct or discipline.