Sloppy Record Keeping Delays Chicago Police Discipline

One officer was finally disciplined for wrongful holding a gun on a father and son and shouting obscenities at them. The suspension occurred 11 years after the incident, only after the Chicago Tribune and ProPublica asked about the case.

An off-duty Chicago police officer held a gun on Brandon Whitehead on a street, calling him and his father obscenities. The men thought thought they were being carjacked. More than 11 years ago, the Whiteheads filed a complaint with police officials responsible for investigating officer misconduct. The father and son were skeptical Levigne would be punished. They were right, the Chicago Tribune and ProPublica report. Police officials concluded that Levigne had mistreated the Whiteheads, used profanity and lied about it, and they recommended that he be suspended for 60 days. They didn’t follow through, and the officer didn’t serve a reduced suspension until just this month, after reporters repeatedly questioned the delay. Even after a Tribune investigation in March found faults with the disciplinary system that had caused officials to lose cases — and after they pledged to track down and finalize those cases — some punishments remain pending.

The previous story detailed how pending punishments for at least 14 officers had been forgotten, and pointed out there likely were more. Police officials have required many of those officers, as well as about a dozen others, to serve punishments — years late — during the past few months, the Tribune and ProPublica Illinois confirmed. Officials continued to let other old cases stall as they failed to make sense of their own disjointed — and sometimes incorrect — records. Police officials’ record keeping in the Levigne case was so poor that records showed the case awaiting review by the Chicago Police Board, which oversees some challenges to officer discipline, though the case had never gone there. As a result of the mix-up, his suspension had not been enforced.