One day after work, Craig Davis found himself arrested: handcuffed, fingerprinted, photographed for his mug shot, and thrown in jail. The suburban police department involved filed a false report, later expunged by court order, but Officer Davis, a Chicago Police Officer, remained stuck in Unit 376 for over 20 months. Why and what is Unit 376 and why should we care?
In May, the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police filed a class action grievance on behalf of all Officers who have been assigned to Unit 376. Unit 376 is where Police Department relocates Officers who are in limbo, waiting to be cleared of some serious charge or if found guilty, fired. Officers report for duty there and for those who were already cleared legally but stuck in the IPRA cog, they function under employed and unable to return to the streets. What is the reason for being in limbo? They are waiting for the IPRA (Independent Police Review Authority) to get around to clearing or sustaining the charges against them.
IPRA was created in 1974 and in 2007 became an independent city department. Per their website, IPRA performs the intake function for all allegations of misconduct made against members of the Chicago Police Department “… Headed by a civilian Chief Administrator and staffed entirely with civilian investigators, IPRA is charged with the mission of maintaining the highest level of integrity while conducting objective, thorough investigations, striving to reach a sound and just conclusion … ” So what is the problem? IPRA isn’t moving all that fast to clear Officers who shouldn’t even be there, where allegations of wrongdoing are clearly false.
The IPRA backlog is not a big secret. Per the Fraternal Order of Police, Chicago Lodge 7 website 5-08-09: (http://www.chicagofop.org/cu050809.html) “Several have made requests to have their police powers restored and sent back to their units of assignment to no avail. The Lodge has said that enough is enough and has filed a class action grievance on behalf of all officers that have been involuntarily assigned to Unit 376.”Now take a look at the nightmare that Chicago Police Officer Craig Davis has endured. On October 24, 2007 at around 11:00 PM, Officer Craig Davis had finished work for the day, and was still in uniform. He went to the home of someone his wife knew, looking for her. The wife’s friend called the Burbank Police to get rid of him. Davis was trying to leave anyway, but his wife was physically blocking his vehicle.
When the Burbank Police arrived, since he was still uniform and carrying, Craig Davis identified himself as a Chicago Police Officer, and from that point on, his life was turned upside down. According to the then Mrs. Davis, the Burbank Police lied to her, telling her that it would be better for him if she filed a complaint and both Mr. and Mrs. Davis understood that this was considered a “domestic incident.”Before you could say, “Barney Fife,” Officer Craig Davis was arrested and thrown in jail. The charge by the Burbank Police Department was for “domestic Battery:” hardly representative of the “domestic Incident” they were told was the complaint. Basically Craig Davis was arrested for arguing with his then wife in public. Freedom of Speech be damned.
For all of us civilians out there, what you may not know is that whenever a Chicago Police Officer is charged with anything that smells of a criminal nature, no matter how innocent they are of the matter, they are immediately stripped of their Police powers. Craig Davis was no exception, and he was stripped the next day, October 25th, 2007 at around 1:00 AM.
Despite being estranged, his now ex wife went to court for him to testify on his behalf. On October 29, 2007 in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Criminal Division, before the Honorable Judge James J. Ryan, gave the order to Expunge the records from both the Burbank Police Department and the Illinois State Police Department and to seal the records. In March of 2008 Craig received a letter stating that his records were now officially expunged.
In June of 2008, well after he was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing, IPRA, the Independent Police Review Authority, finally got around to interviewing Craig Davis. By June of 2009, 15 months after Judge Ryan cleared Craig Davis of the false charges that caused him to be put into CPD limbo, and 20 months after his encounter with the Burbank Police Department, he still remained “in limbo.” When I first met Craig Davis, I remember that one of the first things he said was how much he missed being on the street. Don’t we want Police Officers on the street who really love their job?
Officer Davis has had a unique experience: he had to deal with an allegedly false police report (Burbank Police), being cuffed and arrested at gunpoint, fingerprinted, photographed, thrown in jail, and then going through the criminal court process as a ‘criminal’ before being cleared of all charges. So I ask, why should you care? This should frighten and alarm all good citizens, because if this can happen to a Chicago Police Officer, it can happen to anyone. It can happen to YOU.
So who is Craig Davis? He’s a Christian man, and I say this because he takes his religion and his calling seriously. He feels that God has led him to Chicago for a reason: to serve. Besides being a man devoted to God and Christ, he’s a father of an adorable son from different marriage unrelated to the woman noted before, and is working on an MBA. Anyone that knows him also knows he loves Morrisey.
Craig Davis is also the first in his family to be a Chicago Police Officer, so unlike Mike Mette, he had no police father with friends who can also help put the pressure on to get his situation out in the news media. Craig Davis is also not a Chicago born and bred native, so he lacks the network of family, friends and mentors that native Chicagoans and especially native Chicagoans who become Chicago Police Officers often would turn to in this type of situation.
In essence, Craig Davis was just an ordinary guy who seems to have gotten jammed up by some people on a power trip, and this has cost him his ability to provide for himself and his family in the manner he normally would. Even more alarming is that despite having his name cleared, he was still stuck in Unit 376 limbo until July 6, 2009. If this were you, after the courts cleared you of any wrongdoing, and expunged your records, you would have been back in your job a lot sooner.
On April 7th, 2009, Chicago Tribune reporter David Heinzmann referred to another officer who “languished in the 311 callback center’s purgatorial assignment for tainted officers for more than two years.”
This article was in final draft form when I received a message from Craig that IAD (Internal Affairs Department) had just contacted him and he now has his Police powers restored, will be reporting back to the Academy and he looks forward to returning back to being a Chicago Police Officer, doing the job he loves.
And yes, Unit 376 = the call center 311. Like the numbers, the delay is bad math.