December - 1997
Vol# 13 - Issue# 11
Chicago's Top Cop Steps Down
Chicago Police Superintendent Matt Rodriguez announced his retirement, effective December 1, after more than five years of service at the helm, and 38 years in the Department. The announcement followed an article in the Chicago Tribune questioning Rodriguez' long-term friendship with a business-man who was convicted of a felony, in violation of Departmental policy. The front-page headline was yet another problem in a series of issues related to corruption allegations, abuse of force, and dissatisfaction among the ranks concerning a new promotion policy.
In announcing his retirement Rodriguez said, "I cannot hide from the fact that these events and circumstances, while each unique and isolated, has had an impact on me personally and, more importantly, on the Police Department. These events, in their totality, have not in any way jeopardized public safety or prevented the Department from moving forward, as we need to move forward. But these events have slowed us down, and impeded our progress. If I am true to my vision of policing in Chicago, and I am, then I must recognize this fact."
He went on to say, "Some of these events have been the result of the Department's own efforts to weed out excessive force and corruption."
In accepting the Superintendent's decision to retire, Mayor Richard M. Daley praised Rodriguez for his many contributions to the City, most notably implementation of the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS), which brought community policing to the City. He noted that Rodriguez was also responsible for the new 911 communications center, and for many innovative programs launched during his tenure.
Rodriguez had supported the recommendations of a Mayoral Commission on Police Integrity, formed when ten Chicago police officers were indicted for shaking down drug dealers. The investigation was implemented by the Department's internal affairs unit. In another case Rodriguez suspended two police officers accused of brutality, incurring the anger of some officers. These incidents, coupled with a decision to promote 30 percent of new sergeants on merit, with the requirement that they pass the promotional examination, resulted in a vote of no confidence by 300 officers at a special meeting of the police union.
In his speech at a press conference announcing his retirement, Rodriguez said, "No one individual is more important than the work of the 17,000 men and women of the Chicago police Department. If one person, or the events associated with any one person, begin to stand in the way of progress of our Department, then that individual needs to recognize that fact, and move on."
Mayor Daley appointed First Deputy Superintendent John J. Townsend as Acting Superintendent pending the outcome of a nationwide search by the City's Police Board.