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Proviso Probe

Monday, December 05, 2005

PO-PO, to investigate or not to investigate? [FP]

Steve Backman wrote a letter to the editor in the Forest Park Review asking about the investigation into whether police Lieutenant Steve Johnsen did something inappropriate when he arrested local businessman Jim Shaw. See Forest Park Review's article (Seth Stern) and editorial for background. ForestPark.com has at least one discussion.

Here's my problem with the way Mayor Anthony Calderone, Village Manager Mike Sturino and Police Chief Jim Ryan have handled the Doolin, Shaw, Johnsen imbroglio. I think there's enough evidence to warrant an investigation as to whether Johnsen abused his authority as a police officer, but...

There's been enough evidence to initiate investigations for Forest Park police officers abusing their power in the past and Ryan hasn't initiated investigations in these cases.

Here's stuff I've read in police Sgt. Dan Harder's complaint to the EEOC.

In October, 2003 Harder reported witnessing :
Officer Jason Keeling take a handuffed juvenile prisoner and slam his head against a wooden door frame inside our police station.

Ryan declined to investigate.

In January, 2004 Harder reported:
Several Forest Park Police Officers had been interviewed by the Cook County States Attorney's Office and planned to testify against Sergeant Mike Murphy because they observed him usee excessive for against Sidney Hooks. Mr. Hooks was pepper sprayed and his wrist was broken when Sergeant Murphy hit him. These officers were concerned that the department was "covering up" the incident.

Here's what Ryan investigated:
[T]here was an internal investigation into trying learning [sic] the identity of the person(s) who "leaked" information to the Public Defender's Office.

In March, 2004 Harder reported:
I was contacted by Sgt. Maureen Frawley and told that Officer Jason Keeling had allegedly severely beatn a prisoner, Stephen Hetman, who was in custody at the Village Police Department. Officer Keeling was alleged to have grabbed Mr. Hetman, thrown him into a cell while he was handcuffed, and repeatedly hit and kneed him while he was on the ground.

Ryan failed to investigate.
...a male police officer with a crew cut punched [Paul J. Cruikshank] numerous times in the head and ribs, and kneed him in his side. This was done while Cruikshank was handcuffed and in the back of a Forest Park Police Squad Car. [The detectives] told me that Cruikshank was hurt so badly that he could not eat his meals and they worried that his allegation could compromise their case.

Ryan failed to investigate.

Which allegations do and don't get investigated does NOT seem to be based on the severity of the allegation or the merit of the case. It seems to be based on the whims of Chief Ryan and Mayor Calderone.

Ryan and Calderone appear to have severely flawed judgment. The Village of Forest Park could be on-the-hook for expensive legal settlements.

Attempting to fire Sgt. Dan Harder over poorly time sick days--without warning him first--just doesn't make sense. (See Forest Park Review (Seth Stern) and ForestPark.com.) The Ryan-led police department is tying itself in a knot over poorly timed sick days? While ignoring multiple allegations of police brutality? Does this make sense?

If Harder made the allegations of police brutality, this is what should determine his fate with the Forest Park Police Department. If Harder repeatedly lies about this fellow officers then he should be canned for this. If Harder is telling the truth about Ryan failing to properly investigate police brutality, the police brutality and negligent police chief issues trump the sick days issue.

Calderone and Sturino would be grossly negligent to create a situation where Harder will win a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the Village of Forest Park. If Ryan failed to investigate allegations of police brutality, there's no jury in America that's gonna buy the "Ryan fired him over poorly timed sick days" story.


  • You need to post under a pseudonym on Proviso Probe. I delete posts under anonymous.

    By Blogger Carl Nyberg, at 5:12 PM, December 05, 2005  

  • Is this for real? Surely you must mean Melrose Park? Oh, that's right, there is no longer any difference between Forest Park & Melrose Park. Does Ron have a key to the city? As far as the math, let me do it for you.
    Backmann + Doolin + Johnson + Harder = threat to corrupt Proviso government. Can't have that can we? Threat level HIGH. Must terminate. Must terminate.

    By Blogger watching & waiting, at 10:43 PM, December 06, 2005  

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