Chicago, IL — For many professions, one solitary charge of misconduct is enough to get someone fired. While some people might get forgiveness and a pass on one charge, multiple charges will, more often than not, lead to termination of one’s employment. But with police officers, as The Free Thought Project has consistently reported over the years, they seem to wear reports of misconduct as a badge of honor and are often promoted.
“Cmdr. James Sanchez has been a subject of at least 90 formal complaints since joining the force in 1985, according to the records, obtained through the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. Most of those complaints alleged excessive force or improper searches,” writes WJCT. Sanchez, a Chicago police officer, was recently promoted to Commander, even after amassing nearly one hundred cries from the public of misconduct, leaving many to speculate just how many more citizens refused to come forward, fearing retaliation for filing a report against Sanchez.
Based on the findings in the FOIA request, “Sanchez, who was promoted…to commander last August, has nearly twice as many complaints as any of the department’s other 21 district commanders — and about five times their average.”
Going further into the claims of misconduct reveals a few disturbing accusations, not the least of which was Sanchez’ involvement in the framing of a local gang leader for murder. While working as a detective, Sanchez was accused of coercing witnesses and fabricating evidence to frame Jose’ Lopez. Lopez, after spending 3 years in jail, was acquitted of the crime, and later sued the department and the city, winning a $750,000 settlement in court.
“They targeted Latinos in particular, breaking into their homes, falsely arresting them, kidnapping people, so they could rob them,” said Futterman, the attorney. “There were lots of complaints but nobody was connecting the dots. Nobody was looking at them. That was going on for years,” said Chicago law professor Craig Futterman.
Of the nearly 100 complaints against Sanchez, only three resulted in punishment for the officer. And just as TFTP has reported is customary with police departments all across the country, he only received a three-day suspension for his alleged misdeeds and criminal conduct.
As TFTP has documented, victims of crime seldom come forward to file a police report. It can be assumed, fewer still will present themselves at a police precinct to file misconduct charges against a police officer. As Futterman puts it, “You work in places with higher crime, you have more contact with people, no one likes to be searched, no one likes to be arrested, you get complaints…But it’s a rare occasion when someone who is searched or arrested actually goes out and files a complaint. And the vast majority of those officers haven’t accumulated extraordinary numbers of complaints.”
Futterman has been fighting for years in court to have the criminal complaints against Chicago police officers be released. Even though there exists the Freedom of Information Act, a federal law which calls for complete disclosure, he’s found the CPD to be less than forthcoming, often stalling and delaying his efforts to have the light of truth shine on police officers’ records.
Unfortunately, the CPD may not have done due diligence investigating Sanchez’ work history before promoting him to commander. But after all, they’re the police. They can, will, and do, anything they want, even promoting a man who probably should have been arrested on corruption charges years ago.
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