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Chicago 'Top Cop' Apologizes To Court

The Chicago Crusader, News Report, J.Coyden Palmer Posted: Mar 24, 2009

Its not every day that you will see a major city police chief ordered into court and chastised by a federal judge, but thats exactly what happened to Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis earlier this week. The citys top cop was ordered to appear before Judge Robert Gettleman on March 9th after he defied an order to release a list of nearly 2,000 police officers whove had multiple citizen complaints logged against them. Gettleman was upset at how Weis blew off the order and said because of his position he needed to set a better example.

You of all people should not be defying a court order, Gettleman snapped.

Weis eventually turned the list over before a deadline had passed where a warrant could have been issued for his arrest. But he was still held in contempt and ordered to appear. Weis said the media is making a bigger deal out of the situation than it is. He spoke with reporters afterwards and said his defiance wasnt to embarrass or show-up the judge, but out of concern for his officers.

I dont want my officers, who have to make split-second decisions, having any hesitation or being timid in any way wondering if an allegation, which may or not prove true, is made against them and they would be on a list, Weis explained. This situation is merely a discovery dispute I had with the court.

Weis added that many names on the list are officers who were accused of wrongdoing but nothing was ever founded against them. The city attorneys argued hard for the list to be kept secret, fearing it would smear the name of dozens of good officers. The city also claims that people often make false allegations against officers seeking some sort of revenge or initially file a complaint but then never follow-up on it when investigators try to reach them.

The list will not be released to the public. It is under a protective court order. However, Weis and city attorneys are concerned about the possibility of the protective order being lifted in the future.

The case that brought about all of this comes from an African American woman who says her two children were mistreated by police. Donna Moore claims her 11-year-old son was arrested after getting into a schoolyard scuffle with off-duty Officer Robert Smith in the summer of 2007. Her 13-year-old daughter was also arrested in the incident. She and her attorney want to know whether Smith has a history of rogue conduct. She was offended by Weis reasons for defying the court. She said its exactly the mentality that so many people disdain about police officers in general; a them against us philosophy.

As a citizen of Chicago, I have an expectation and the rest of us have an expectation that his paramount responsibility is the protection and safety of the millions of people in Chicago and not the 1,000 or so of those so called repeaters that are on the list, Moore said. I would trust that Jody Weis would lead by example. Instead hes giving the signal to every official that whatever you do, Ill protect you.

Moores lawyer, G. Flint Taylor, was happy with the way Gettleman handled the situation. He said the city was being reckless and silly by not handing over the list to begin with. He believes the city has more to hide than they are concerned about the well-being of some officers who might be falsely accused. We are very heartened by Judge Gettleman's strong reaction to Weis and the city's continuing lawless conduct, Taylor said in a statement.

He also plans to ask for $100,000 in attorney fees after Gettleman ordered the city to pay for the plaintiffs legal costs. He added he is not out to smear the name of reputation off good officers as Weis contends.

Ald. Ed Smith was in court with the plaintiff Moore. He has been the only council member to say the list should have been released. He believes that a thorough investigation needs to take place into Moores complaints. He said the city should have learned its lesson by now with the Jon Burge case that burying your head in the sand because of some possible embarrassment doesnt make the situation go away.

There are some bad cops and we need to know who they are, Smith said. Were not going to sweep it under the rug.

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