Chicago police to disband problematic officer unit accused of planning murder, threatening residents

By Don Babwin

CHICAGO – The Chicago Police Department will disband an elite drug and gang unit under state and federal investigation for allegations ranging from armed violence and home invasion to kidnapping and plotting a murder-for-hire, officials said Tuesday.

“The recent incidents involving officer misconduct have been disheartening and demoralizing, especially to the officers who serve this department honorably every single day,” said interim Police Superintendent Dana Starks.

Seven members of the Special Operations Section have been charged with belonging to a rogue band of officers who used their badges to shake down residents and intimidate people. All have pleaded not guilty.

One of those officers, Jerome Finnigan, was charged two weeks ago with plotting to hire someone to murder off another member of the unit to keep him from talking to the government.

Starks said the SOS will be reorganized and all specialized units – including SWAT teams, the helicopter unit and mounted patrol – will be organized under one unit and closely supervised.

“We cannot monitor every single police officer’s behavior,” Starks said. “But we can enforce accountability measures combined with a disciplinary process to demand that members at supervisory levels are held accountable. I am confident that this is a positive step forward.”

He said more officers will be assigned to an internal affairs division to monitor officers, including unannounced audits at districts to follow up and monitor citizen complaints.