Ex-Daley police bodyguards sue over demotions

August 16, 2012

Several Chicago police bodyguards for former Mayor Richard Daley say they were demoted when his successor took office. A federal lawsuit alleges that just days after Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s 2011 inauguration, he hired other cops who had worked on his campaign.

The suit filed Monday also alleges the 11 white and Hispanic officers were discriminated against when they were reassigned because black officers with less experience and seniority were kept on to work the new mayor’s security detail.

The suit claims the city violated rules against racially- and politically-motivated hiring.

“Chicago is notorious for political maneuvering and political hiring and political firing and so forth, said attorney Ed Fox, who is representing the plaintiffs. “And this is a pretty blatant violation of the whole thing.”

According to the civil complaint, several of the new officers tapped for the security detail had volunteered as bodyguards for Emanuel during his high-profile campaign, while others were “politically involved” in his election.

Fox declined to talk about the scope of that alleged political involvement.

When one of the officers asked his boss why he was being demoted, while four of Daley’s black bodyguards were staying on, the supervisor said, “The color of your skin is your sin,” according to the complaint.

All 11 officers have since been reassigned to lower-paying jobs within the Chicago Police Department, the suit alleges.

Representatives for Emanuel and the police department could not immediately confirm whether the officers worked on the mayor’s campaign. City workers are allowed to volunteer for political campaigns, but the city is not allowed to take politics into account when hiring for most jobs.

The security staffing shuffle occurred before Emanuel moved into City Hall, under the watch of Interim Police Superintendent Terry Hillard. In an emailed statement, Hillard called the lawsuit “egregious.”

“I am truly disappointed by the untrue allegations made in this egregious lawsuit filed by members of former Mayor Daley's security detail,” Hillard said, adding that he made the staffing changes in consultation with police and the U.S. Secret Service. “It was, as it should be, a careful and deliberative process, and at no time were political or any other inappropriate factors considered, period.”

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Chicago Law Department said in a statement that the lawsuit is “baseless and false,” and that neither Emanuel nor his staff played a role in the demotions.

Emanuel refused to answer questions about the complaint in an event he attended Thursday.