Mayor, Top Cop Defend Promotion Of Commander With 90 Complaints | WBEZ
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Mayor, Top Cop Defend Promotion Of Commander With 90 Complaints

Updated at 5:05 p.m. 

Chicago officials are defending the promotion of a cop with dozens of misconduct complaints to command the police department’s Ogden District.

WBEZ reported on Tuesday that Cmdr. James Sanchez has at least 90 misconduct complaints, more than almost any other Chicago officer.

Speaking with reporters Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Rahm Emanuel was asked whether he knew that the commander had such a long complaint history.

“I don’t know about that but I do know that Jimmy Sanchez is doing a very good job in taking a very challenging district and in many ways as of awhile ago — I haven’t seen recent stuff — making tremendous strides, both gun violence as well as burglaries and robberies,” Emanuel said.

Police Supt. Eddie Johnson, who made the promotion last August, pointed out at a Tuesday news conference that the city had found Sanchez at fault in just a handful of those incidents.

“The fact that you have an allegation doesn’t mean you’re automatically guilty of something,” Johnson said. “That’s why it’s investigated. So, because they are not sustained allegations, that should should not hold him back.”

“That’s why you have due process,” Johnson said. “When we find that there is cause for concern, then we take the appropriate actions but, at this point, the majority of those allegations were unfounded or not sustained.”

A yearlong U.S. Department of Justice investigation of the city’s policing found that “Chicago seldom holds officers accountable for misconduct.” The DOJ report, issued last month, said that lack of accountability leads to a pattern of unconstitutional policing.

Most of the 90 complaints against Sanchez alleged excessive force or an improper search.

Sanchez’s complaint history also shows ties to Jerome Finnigan, a Chicago officer sent to federal prison for corruption and a murder-for-hire plot.

Sanchez was also the lead detective in a murder case that led to a $750,000 city settlement with a gang member who claimed the police framed him for the crime.

Former federal prosecutor Sergio Acosta, a member of Emanuel’s Police Accountability Task Force, called Sanchez’s complaints “giant red flags.”

But Johnson said Sanchez has “the support of the community.”

“He’s done a phenomenal job during his career and he has my support,” Johnson said.

Chip Mitchell reports out of WBEZ’s West Side studio. Follow him @ChipMitchell1.

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