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Watchdog Investigating Claims 3 Lieutenants Cheated On Police Exam: Feds

By Heather Cherone | January 18, 2017 6:31am
 City Inspector General Joe Ferguson (left) is investigating whether Chicago Deputy Chief Eugene Williams shared privileged information with a group of sergeants studying for an exam to become lieutenants.
City Inspector General Joe Ferguson (left) is investigating whether Chicago Deputy Chief Eugene Williams shared privileged information with a group of sergeants studying for an exam to become lieutenants.
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CITY HALL — Chicago Inspector General Joseph Ferguson is probing allegations three police lieutenants cheated on the August 2015 promotion exam, according to the Department of Justice's investigation into the Chicago Police Department.

The city watchdog's investigation — based on claims first reported by DNAinfo in April — focuses on allegations that now-retired Chicago Deputy Police Supt. Eugene Williams shared privileged information in a study group about the most recent test used to promote sergeants to lieutenants.

That study group included a number of people, including Lt. Maryet Hall, who is married to former First Deputy Police Supt. Al Wysinger, who was the department's No. 2 cop until he retired in 2015; Lt. Nakia Fenner, Supt. Eddie Johnson's fianceé; and Lt. Davina Ward, according to documents obtained by DNAinfo.

None of the lieutenants are referred to by name in the report by federal investigators, nor is Williams, who is referred to only as a "high-ranking official who helped develop the August 2015 lieutenant exam" in the report by federal officials.

A spokesman for Ferguson did not return a phone message seeking comment Tuesday.

Williams, who was head of the bureau of administration when he retired, was a "subject matter expert" who helped create the exam. The chief also was the "final reviewer of potential exam content," according to a document obtained by DNAinfo.

Williams signed a confidentiality agreement promising not to share "any information, ideas, concepts, test questions, etc., with any unauthorized personnel."

The inspector general's investigation was launched after by a Police Department employee signed an official misconduct complaint alleging Williams shared privileged information in the study group.

DNAinfo is not naming the officer who signed the complaint; he has asked for anonymity because he fears reprisal from the department's top brass.

After the allegations came to light, the whistleblower met with federal officials investigating the Police Department and urged them to expand their investigation into the cheating allegations and the department's promotions system.

The allegations of cheating on the exam being investigated by Ferguson's office contribute to a "narrative among the rank-and-file that CPD does not value good leadership and that current leaders are unfit to lead," according to the report by the Department of Justice.

Despite efforts by city and police officials to reform the ways officers move up through the ranks, officers view the promotions system with "skepticism," which has lowered officer morale and undermined effective supervision, according to the report.

City officials should take steps to increase the system's transparency and ensure officers "who are willing and able to provide officers with adequate supervision, guide them on how to police effectively and constitutionally, and hold them accountable when necessary," are promoted, federal officials recommended.

That is "critical to preventing, detecting, and appropriately responding to unreasonable uses of force," according to the report.

In addition, promotion exams should be offered more frequently to offer qualified officers additional opportunities to advance and reduce frustration, according to the report.

The last time the test to become a sergeant was offered was January 2014. Before that, it was March 2006. In addition, the exam to become a detective was not offered between September 2003 and May 2016, according to the report.

The 13-month federal investigation — sparked by the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald — found that the Chicago Police Department "engages in a pattern or practice of use of excessive force that violates the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution."

Those civil right violations are due to the department's "severely deficient" training procedures, a lack of oversight and misuse of data that has led to an erosion of officer morale, Attorney General Lorretta Lynch said.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel agreed Friday to negotiate a legally binding agreement — known as a consent decree — to ensure that reforms are implemented under the authority of a federal judge.

Emanuel has said misconduct by officers will not be tolerated.

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