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posted: 9/21/2013 8:00 AM

Naperville cops react to councilman's criticism

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  • Robert Fieseler

      Robert Fieseler

  • Vince Clark

      Vince Clark

 
 

Naperville's police union has taken exception to criticism from a city council member regarding behavior that prompted the recent $430,000 settlement of an excessive force civil suit.

In a statement released late this week, Naperville Fraternal Order of Police President Vince Clark said council member Robert Fieseler's claim that "police have been overreaching" was both "offensive and ironic."

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"(Fieseler's comments) are offensive in that the city's own legal department negotiated a settlement ... (in which) the city of Naperville and its police department did not admit any liability," Clark said in the statement.

"However a councilman apparently is doing so in the newspaper. It undermines a settlement the legal department negotiated," Clark wrote. "It's also offensive for a councilman to publicly question the actions of our officers and in our opinion 'armchair quarterback' our officers' decisions on the street."

Fieseler made his comments in a story that ran in Monday's Daily Herald regarding the settlement of a lawsuit brought by a Lemont woman who suffered a torn rotator cuff when she struggled with police while her son was being arrested on drug charges in 2010.

Clark said Friday it was unfair for Fieseler to criticize officers for a "business decision" made by city attorneys.

Fieseler, meanwhile, stood behind his comments Friday and continued to raise questions about the actions of the city's police department.

"For (the union) to write such a letter in such a thuggish way is exactly the behavior I was referring to when I made my original statements," he said.

Fieseler said he has studied excessive force cases in Naperville since 2007 and written several memos to the city staff expressing the need for change.

"The solution is to recognize a pattern -- and maybe I am Monday morning quarterbacking -- that we've got 10 cases in the last seven years that are textbook cases of over-exuberance where people who are not suspects themselves are injured or have their rights violated," Fieseler said.

"I'm convinced more than ever that people like me need to speak out.

"The culture of denial and protectiveness is costing residents, not to mention the reputational effect and impression left with the public when police intervene in a way that sweeps in bystanders who wind up being found not liable for anything."

Clark suggested Fieseler's anger was misguided and should be aimed at the city for settling the suit and costing the police department $435,000 that could have otherwise been used for training related to the incident.

Fieseler, however, quoted Abraham Lincoln to summarize the union's response.

"When the facts are on your side, you pound the facts. When the law is on your side, you pound the law.

"And when you have neither, you pound the table," Fieseler said. "They're doing a lot of table-pounding over at the police department."

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