Monday, February 19, 2007

Hospital Cops "So out of control"

An article written by Sun Times Staff reporter Abdon M. Pallasch (dated 2-16-07)

The 59-officer police force that patrols Stroger Hospital (Chicago) has been a source of controversy since it 1973 creation. Critics say that in the 12 year reign of County Board President John Stroger, it became a dumping ground for his 8th ward precinct workers- some whose law enforcement experience amounted to getting arrested.

1 . Officer James Henson fought with a pregnant patient in 2002, knocked her into a counter at the hospital, and she lost her baby. Taxpayers paid $1.5 million for her loss, and Henson was fired. But an arbitrator ordered the county to re-hire Henson.

2. Former County Board President Richard Phelan was at the hospital when an officer was cuffing a television cameraman. Phelan identified himself, told the officer he was his boss and to stop. The officer kept cuffing and the county paid a tidy sum to the cameraman to settle the lawsuit.

Last month, the family of Augstin Sotomayor filed a lawsuit saying one of the officers pulled the 77-year-old man out of his car as he was waiting for his wife, asked him if he was in the country legally, and beat him up. Sotomayor was in the hospital for 2 months after the beating and suffered a stroke.
Board Member Robert Maldonado has led the charge to disband the force, which is independent of the Sheriff's Department and whose officers make an estimated $40,000-$50,000 a year.
County attorneys suggested the county first appointed a commission to study the force. That three-member panel is due to issue the report shortly.
"I hope we can renew this movement to disband this force", Maldonado said. "Those guys are so out of control." Last year, the Chicago Sun Times requested copies of brutality complaints against the force. The county never provided them.

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