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Officers Under Investigation For Alleged Police Exam Cheating Promoted

By Heather Cherone | April 8, 2016 1:42pm | Updated on April 11, 2016 8:46am
 Recruits are sworn in and lieutenants honored at a Chicago Police Department promotion ceremony at Navy Pier.
Chicago Police Department Promotion Ceremony
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NAVY PIER — Mayor Rahm Emanuel and new interim Supt. Eddie Johnson Friday promoted three police sergeants who are named in an investigation into alleged cheating on the department's lieutenant's exam.

Three of the 36 lieutenants officially promoted Friday — Lt. Nakia Fenner, Lt. Maryet Hall and Lt. Davina Ward — were named in an anonymous complaint made to the department's Internal Affairs Division that accused Deputy Chief Eugene Williams of sharing "information that was privileged" about the exam to sergeants in a study group, according to a confidential police Internal Affairs report obtained by DNAinfo.

Williams is a "subject matter expert" who helped create the exam, documents obtained by DNAinfo Chicago show.

Williams' study group included Fenner, who is engaged to Johnson, as well Hall, who is married to former First Deputy Police Supt. Al Wysinger, who retired last year, and Ward, multiple sources told DNAinfo Chicago.

The graduation and promotional ceremony in Navy Pier's Grand Ballroom that also welcomed 74 new officers to the department came as the city's Inspector General Joe Ferguson investigates alleged cheating on the department's lieutenant's exam.

Lt. Nakia Fenner takes the oath of office as a lieutenant in the Chicago Police Department. [DNAinfo/Kelly Bauer]

Fenner, however, told DNAinfo Chicago she "did not participate in any study groups."

Fenner, a Deering District lieutenant, denied knowledge of any investigation into cheating allegations.

Ward and Hall did not respond to messages left by DNAinfo Chicago.

RELATED: New Top Cop's Fianceé Under Investigation For Alleged Police Exam Cheating

Lt. Maryet Hall poses with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and interim Police Supt. Eddie Johnson, r., at the Chicago Police Department promotion ceremony held Friday. [DNAinfo/Kelly Bauer]

Neither Johnson nor Emanuel addressed the investigation during their remarks to graduates or at a brief news conference after the ceremony.

Emanuel has vigorously defended his choice of Johnson to lead the department, saying the report by DNAinfo Chicago was part of a "game" that involved "innuendo and besmirching people's character."

Johnson has said he will handle the results of any investigation appropriately.

Lt. Davina Ward shakes hands with Mayor Rahm Emanuel at a Chicago Police Department promotion ceremony. [DNAinfo/Kelly Bauer]

At the graduation ceremony, Emanuel and Johnson warned the department's newest officers and lieutenants that they were entering "a brand new world" for police officers where they must earn the trust of residents while combating a surge in violent crime.

Johnson said after the ceremony he "would not tolerate intentional misconduct" by officers and called on officers who make an "honest mistake" to come forward to be held accountable.

After the news conference, Johnson posed for pictures with Fenner and her family as recruits celebrated their achievement with flowers, balloons and presents.

Johnson began his remarks at the ceremony recalling how he began his career at a similar ceremony 27 years ago, looking forward an "exciting career" as a police officer that he hoped would help him support his family.

Johnson, presiding over his first CPD graduation as the head of the Chicago Police Department, said he considered himself "the luckiest man in the world."

"I am proud to wear these stars," Johnson said, referring to the superintendent's insignia featuring four silver stars pinned to his dress uniform.

Johnson acknowledged that the department is under unprecedented scrutiny after what he said were the "mistakes of a few officers."

"This is a new day for policing, a new day for Chicago," Johnson said. "We will meet this challenge with courage."

Shootings have risen 80 percent since the start of 2016, according to information compiled by DNAinfo Chicago.

At the same time, the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the department in the wake of the release of a dashcam video showing a police officer fatally shoot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times for hurting officers' confidence and pride in their work.

Police officers hold a "sacred trust" with the community, Johnson said.

"It is hard to earn that trust, but easy to lose it," Johnson said. "It is even harder to get it back. But we will. You will. All of us together will."

Johnson said he started the process of restoring that trust by listening so much "my ears are burning," prompting laughter from the new officers and their families.

Johnson said he believed in "community policing" as a way to run the department.

The new superintendent urged the rookie police officers to look to the newly promoted lieutenants for examples on how to "de-escalate situations when possible and when to assert authority."

Emanuel said it was not a "mistake that the new superintendent comes from the patrol division."

"Patrol is the backbone of the department," Emanuel said. "But we are asking you not just to patrol a community, but we want you to be a part of a community."

While Emanuel told the new officers and the newly promoted leaders that the "safety of our streets are on your shoulders," they were not alone. The mayor said "pastors, parents and principals" must partner with police to reduce crime.

"You must do this dangerous job with care and compassion," Emanuel said.

Both Emanuel and Johnson used their remarks at the graduation to warn the "1,000 people" who cause the majority of violent crime in Chicago that police know their names and have their pictures.

"Your days are numbered," Emanuel said. "You are put on notice."

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