LAKEVIEW — At the beginning of a Chicago police officer's career — before graduating from the academy — cadets have a long sitdown with Scott Ando, the acting boss at the Independent Police Review Authority, to hear his "words of wisdom" talk.
That's when Ando tells it to them straight — don't break Rule 14, the little-known provision in the Chicago Police Department disciplinary code that addresses officers who "make false reports, written or oral."
"Don't lie about something that might result in a 30-day suspension or less, and wind up getting fired for it because you make a statement that is materially false," Ando says.
Ando — a former narcotics officer, Drug Enforcement Administration supervisor and Internal Affairs investigator with 32 years of law enforcement experience — said he has been on both sides of disciplinary hearings and never wants to recommend firing an officer.
"You do it because you have to. … If you lie, you're done," he said. "We take that very seriously. To be forewarned is to be forearmed, and it's important that they know [Rule 14] is a career killer."
But since 2008, that hasn't been the case for 55 percent of the officers who IPRA found violated Rule 14, a DNAinfo.com Chicago investigation into the Police Department's code of silence has found.
In fact, IPRA only recommended firing 34 of the 74 officers who were found guilty of making false statements between 2008 and now, according to IPRA's "sustained findings" reports.
And just because IPRA recommends that officers be fired for lying, that doesn't mean they lose their jobs.
A sergeant and six tactical officers were set to be fired for illegally searching a Bronzeville apartment and lying to cover it up, but the Chicago Police Board gave five officers one-year suspensions.
A decorated sergeant and veteran lieutenant had their IPRA-recommended punishments reduced from termination to 30-day suspensions after they lied to cover up the accidental discharge of pepper spray at a River North steakhouse.
And at least one officer — Jamie Chisem, who was fired for making inappropriate contact with young women and lying to cover it up — had his firing overturned and reduced to a five-year suspension on appeal, DNAinfo.com Chicago's review of Rule 14 cases found.
IPRA investigators aren't the only ones who charge cops with Rule 14 violations. Since 2008, the Police Department's internal affairs division has investigated 140 misconduct cases involving officers who allegedly made false statements. IAD sustained another 90 cases involving Rule 14 charges, according to police records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. The type of punishments doled out by internal affairs in those Rule 14 cases are not made public.
Police Supt. Garry McCarthy — who advocates firing any officer found guilty of "boldface" lying — blames the "convoluted" system used to investigate misconduct cases for doling out inconsistent punishments. That fails to send a message to the rank-and-file that lying won't be tolerated, he said.
Ultimately, officers with serious credibility problems get sent back on the street — and potentially worse, back on the witness stand in felony criminal trials — after they serve out suspensions.
VIDEO, DOG WALKER EXPOSE COVER-UP
That's the case for Officer Wayne Keneipp, whom IPRA found guilty of lying to cover up for an off-duty sergeant after a late-night brawl on Clark Street in Wrigleyville.
It all started in the wee hours of June 12, 2008, long after the Cubs beat the Braves at Wrigley Field. A couple of guys from the Northwest Side, Nelson Sada and his pal Daniel Gonzalez, had a run-in with a reveler on Clark Street outside the John Barleycorn nightclub.
Sada said that what started as trash talk on the sidewalk about 2 a.m. erupted into a fistfight.
Sada and Gonzalez roughed up Robert Murray, who flagged down a squad car.
Keneipp and his partner, Veronica Murillo, handcuffed Sada and Gonzalez and put them in back of the squad car.
That's when Sada realized he punched the wrong guy — an off-duty Chicago police sergeant.
"I could hear the other cops addressing him, 'Hey, sergeant are you, OK?'" Sada said. "I'm like, 'What the f---, this dude's a sergeant.' "
While Keneipp and Murillo interviewed witnesses on the street, Murray made his way toward the squad car.
"That's when [Murray] opened up the back door," Sada said. "We were both handcuffed, that's when I see him just — boom, boom, boom — beating the s--- out of my friend."
A woman walking her dog who stopped to watch the fight saw Murray walk away "super-hyped up."
Keneipp and Murillo took Sada to the Town Hall District police station and Gonzalez, who was bloody and unconscious, to the hospital.
Gonzalez said that the first thing he remembers after taking the beating was "being in the hospital, telling the nurse I got beat up by cops," he testified at a police board hearing.
Later that day, Sada and Gonzalez were both released without charges.
They filed a report with IPRA and talked to investigators the same day. And four days later, they filed a federal lawsuit.
After IPRA investigators interviewed Murray as well as officers on the scene and people on the street, and watched video from a bar security camera, they accused Murray and Keneipp of violating Rule 14.
Murray denied punching Gonzalez in the back of the squad car. He told investigators that he spotted Sada trying to slip out of his handcuffs and went into the car to make sure that didn't happen, according to his police board testimony.
Keneipp testified he arrested Sada and Gonzalez after Murray told him that he was a police sergeant at "35th Street" — slang for police headquarters — and needed help.
Keneipp told investigators he did not see Murray punch Gonzalez. He said he didn't even notice Gonzalez was bleeding until they got to the station.
Witnesses who were there that night, including the woman walking her dog, told a different story, according to the police board's findings.
The woman testified that after Murray tussled with Gonzalez in the back of the squad car, Murray walked away yelling, "You're lucky I didn't have my gun on me. I would have shot you. I would have killed you."
BACK TO WORK AT TOWN HALL DISTRICT
Sada and Gonzalez settled their federal case for a $75,000 payout in September of 2008.
"I told Danny, 'Hey, you know what, bro? Pretty much you got yourself some free money for an ass-whooping, dude,' " Sada said. " 'Just take it, dude.' "
IPRA's investigation lasted until December 2011, when it determined Murray beat up Gonzalez in the back seat and lied about it — and recommended that the 13-year veteran be fired, according to IPRA reports.
When the Police Board finally fired Murray on March 21, 2013, the decision cited two other misconduct cases that he was involved in within months of the early morning fight in Wrigleyville that cost him his job, according to the police board decision.
Murray did not return calls, including messages left at his office and with the police union seeking comment.
IPRA also found that both Keneipp and Murillo failed to protect Sada and Gonzalez while they were in custody. Murillo couldn't be reached for comment. Reached by phone, Keneipp said he'd rather not comment but, "If there's money involved, I'll consider it. Other than that, I have no comment."
Murillo, who wasn't charged with a Rule 14 violation, got hit with a 15-day suspension for failing to protect her arrestees. She then returned to duty. She's now assigned to the Area North patrol bureau, according to police records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.
IPRA sustained Rule 14 allegations against Keneipp, saying he lied on a police report, and recommended a 30-day suspension.
Keneipp went back to work, with a Rule 14 violation in his file.
He's now assigned to the Town Hall District in Lakeview, police records show.
'A PRACTICAL IMPOSSIBILITY'
Keneipp isn't alone, but it's difficult to determine how many officers with Rule 14 violations now patrol Chicago's streets.
The Police Department denied DNAinfo.com Chicago's request to provide the total count of officers, sergeants and lieutenants with Rule 14 violations who are on active duty.
Supt. McCarthy also said he wasn't sure if any of the 200 officers on desk duty who were sent out on the street in January had Rule 14 violations in their past. The reassignments were part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's push to get more cops on the street.
McCarthy said he didn't check the personnel records of any of the former desk-duty officers. He also said it's not department policy to review a cop's disciplinary record before the officer testifies in court.
"We don't do reviews like that," he said.
That creates problems for defense attorneys and public defenders in criminal court. They told DNAinfo.com Chicago it's nearly impossible to know if an officer testifying against their client has credibility issues — especially sustained Rule 14 violations.
Cook County First Assistant Public Defender Pat Reardon, the county's No. 2 public defender, said that in his more than 40 years on the job, he has never had a prosecutor disclose information that an officer violated Rule 14 or had been accused of lying.
Take now-retired police Sgt. Thomas O'Grady, who testified at a 2011 criminal trial without disclosing to the defense that he retired before facing a police board hearing on IPRA's recommendation he be fired for brutalizing a handcuffed man and lying to cover it up.
Steven Muslin, the lawyer who questioned O'Grady on the stand, said he should have been notified about the sergeant's Rule 14 violation.
He said it's not good enough for a prosecutor — who represents the entire state, including the accused — to say "we don't know" if there's a credibility issue "and you know they have the ability to know."
Cook County prosecutors are required by law to disclose police officer credibility issues pertinent to a case when they know about them.
When it comes to Rule 14 violations, Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez's chief of staff Dan Kirk said prosecutors don't always know details of an officer's disciplinary history.
Prosecutors don't check officer personnel files before every case, because to do so would have a "crippling effect on the criminal justice system," Kirk said.
"We do not do that on the state level because we prosecute 35,000 felonies a year and 200,000 misdemeanors," he said. "We don't have the resources to review personnel files of every officer who is a witness in every case."
But Kirk said that when it comes to Rule 14, it's fair to question how the Police Department handles disclosing officer disciplinary records to prosecutors.
"From our perspective, the more information passed to us from CPD the better. Particularly when it comes to officer credibility findings," Kirk said. "No defendant should ever be put in a position where they are somehow precluded from discovering information about an officer's credibility if there's a legitimate question."
Kirk said the state's attorney's office is open to ideas on how to "uniformly guarantee that we can avoid that problem."
But right now, he said, "That would be a practical impossibility."
Reardon said getting a judge to require prosecutors to turn over a police officer's personnel records isn't easy, either.
"Unless I'm the one to find information about an officer lying in the first place, it's unduly rough to get that information," he said.
"If there has been referral to IPRA, you don't get that. First, the state denies they have it. Secondly, they say it's irrelevant. It would be clearly important information. A jury should be able to mitigate that to see if he's credible," Reardon said.
But a lot of times what happens is, "Judges say it's collateral and not to go into it — that just because someone lies once, does not mean they lie all the time," he said.
'CALM UNDER PRESSURE'
Many officers who get fired for lying go on to start new careers.
Robert Murray — a former quarterback for the Chicago Enforcers, the Police Department's football team — moved on to coaching some of the state's top high school quarterbacks at the Quarterback Farm in Naperville.
Murray — the guy who the police board said beat a handcuffed man in the back of a squad car and who a witness testified she heard scream, "I would have killed you" — is now the "best hidden talent in private quarterback coaching," according to the company website.
Murray's coaching profile also states his former Police Department colleagues regarded him for "his tremendous leadership, and his ability to be calm under pressure."