A longtime Chicago police sergeant is suing the city of Chicago and others, including Supt. Eddie Johnson, challenging the lieutenant’s promotion system as rigged on behalf of favored candidates.
A formal investigation by the city’s Inspector General found no evidence of wrongdoing, but Sgt. Hosea Word alleged in the suit that actions took place which enabled competing sergeants to be promoted “who had not fairly and honestly earned that right.”
“It became common knowledge in the ranks that the chiefs decided to scrap the 2006 test results, in order to administer a new test so they could secretly give their wives and girlfriends the test answers, which helped them to get high scores, promotions, pay raises, and pension increases that they didn’t deserve,” Word said in a statement. “I and others feel cheated and betrayed.”
In his lawsuit filed Monday, Word alleged Johnson, former first deputy Al Wysinger, and former Chief Eugene Williams, intentionally leaked answers to the test to benefit their wives or girlfriends.
“Williams was a ‘senior subject matter expert’ for the lieutenant’s examination and had access to the test before it was administered,” Word alleged, saying the women in question formed a “study group” for the lieutenant’s examination where he contends they were given access to exam materials.
“With access to the test materials in advance, the wives and girlfirneds were able to dramatically improve their performance on the lieutenant’s exam,” the suit states.
“Defendant Wysinger’s wife was ranked first on the 2015 examination, improving from a rank of 280 on the 2006 examination,” Word argued. “Such dramatic improvement on the exam was statistically improbable without advance access to the testing materials.”
In early 2016, city’s Inspector General Joe Ferguson initiated an investigation into the allegations of cheating on the lieutenant’s exam. But last June, Ferguson said he concluded there was no evidence that the women in question had received an unfair advantage in the testing procedures, and Williams was cleared of helping to rig the exam.
“In the course of its investigation, OIG interviewed 20 individuals,” Ferguson wrote in his report. “No first hand witnesses or accounts of cheating emerged prior to or during the course of OIG’s investigation.”
Ferguson said his office reviewed some 300,000 emails and searched another 600,000 computer files as part of the inquiry.
“Overall, the analyses did not reveal any trends supporting the allegations of fraudulent behavior,” he wrote.
But in the statement accompanying his suit, Sgt. Word said he felt “cheated and betrayed” by the testing procedures.
“I can remain quiet and fearful of retaliation,” he said. “Or I can speak up about the injustice and break the code of silence.”
Word’s attorney Victor Henderson, noted the city’s long history of nepotism and patronage.
“This history is especially harmful when it spills over into the police department,” he said. “If the police are not honest and trustworthy with each other, then the rest of us don’t stand a chance of consistently being treated fairly when we run into them on the street.”