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U. of C. Police Officer Off the Force After Illegal Search, Report Says

By Sam Cholke | December 4, 2015 6:05am
 A report on the U. of C.'s police says the officer lied about having a warrant and is now off the force.
A report on the U. of C.'s police says the officer lied about having a warrant and is now off the force.
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DNAinfo/Sam Cholke

HYDE PARK — A University of Chicago police officer is off the force after forcing his way into an apartment and arresting two boys without a warrant, according to a new report.

The university’s Independent Review Committee for the university police department on Tuesday released its yearly review of complaints against officers and found an officer illegally searched two boys accused of stealing a cellphone.

According to the report, university officers went to the home of a boy who had allegedly stolen a cellphone and, when the boy's mother asked if they had a warrant, they lied and said they did.

The mother called the boy’s parole officer, who told her there were no outstanding warrants for her son, according to the report.

The accused officer then damaged the front door trying to force his way in to the apartment and took the son and his friend into custody.

The family later complained to the university police department that the officer was rude and unprofessional, caused criminal damage to their home and and conducted an illegal search and seizure.

“The committee finds a number of details in this case troubling, and appreciated learning that the accused officer is no longer employed by the UCPD,” the report says.

The committee, whose 12 members are university faculty, staff and students and three community members, also questioned why the other officers involved were not subject to the same complaints.

“There were two officers that were on the scene during the timeframe in question. Both were part of the investigation and one was found to be in violation of department policy,” said Marielle Sainvilus, a spokeswoman for the university.

Sainvilus was not immediately able to say when the incident happened, but the complaint was filed by a man on Dec. 1, 2014, according to university reports. The committee reached its decision that the officer acted inappropriately on March 26, at which point the officer was already off the force.

“Corrective action was taken as the result of the complaint review investigation and the person is no longer employed with the University of Chicago Police Department,” Sainvilus said.

Members of the committee did not respond to requests for comment.

Of the eight complaints investigated, only the instance of an officer falsely claiming to have a warrant was deemed wholly inappropriate.

In another instance, an officer was found to have inappropriately handcuffed two black men while searching their car, but the claim that the two men were racially profiled was deemed unfounded.

The officer was provided additional training according to the report.

The number of officers with complaints on their record remains the same as last year at 22 officers, but more officers now have more complaints.

Six complaints have now been lodged against one officer since 2005 and the number of officers with three complaints has risen to nine from four last year.

The complaints reviewed were all from between January 2014 and January 2015.

The university has instituted new policies for reviewing complaints since the period examined in the report and an administrator outside the police department now investigates complaints, instead of a university officer, before the review committee considers the complaint.

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