6 suspended after Des Plaines police golf outing involving drinking and sex
Five police officers and a civilian employee of the Des Plaines Police Department will be suspended without pay as a result of their actions at a June 2017 golf outing and party, officials said Friday.
Police Chief Bill Kushner is issuing the suspensions after private firm Michael Best and Friedrich LLP completed its investigation into the golf outing at Hilldale Golf Course in Hoffman Estates and a nearby after-party that included excessive drinking, nudity, sexual activity and subsequent rumors that a female officer was raped.
A separate investigation this year by the Hoffman Estates Police Department found no evidence of a crime.
"This was an embarrassing moment for the police department," Kushner said. "On or off duty, people know who you are and what department they represent, so you have to have decorum."
The investigation first started when rumors circulated months after the golf outing that a female officer -- who had been fired for job performance issues -- was sexually assaulted during the after-party. The woman later told Hoffman Estates police she did not believe she had been sexually assaulted and it was only when she heard rumors that she began to believe something may have happened, according to the police report.
The investigation by Michael Best and Friedrich concurred with this conclusion.
However, it determined that excessive drinking, sexual conduct and subsequent rumors violated the police department's policies.
"Although we conclude that the purpose behind the golf outing -- providing members an opportunity to relax together and help build camaraderie -- was laudable, and that responsibly drinking alcohol in a social setting is acceptable, there appeared to be a lax attitude and willingness to accept certain inappropriate conduct that, at best, fostered an environment that enabled misconduct," the report states.
The report found that excessive drinking and sexual activity during the event violated a policy that members are prohibited from conduct that reflects unfavorably on the police department.
Five members of the police department admitted to being intoxicated to the point that they were impaired, according to the report. About 40 police officers and employees attended the golf outing. Some began drinking as they arrived at the golf course and others continued while playing a round.
According to the report, one foursome finished an alcoholic drink that contained an entire bottle of rum by the ninth hole. That group included the woman who was the subject of the rumors. According to the report, the woman was acting in a provocative manner at the golf course and party, including engaging in kissing and other physical contact with others.
The report states that the conduct by the woman at the golf course and home "is troubling and we conclude that she was the most culpable actor in the unfortunate series of events that unfolded last June."
However, the report states, her actions do not excuse the conduct of other members of the police department, "who responded to (the woman's) advances inappropriately, likely due in part to their own intoxication," according to the report.
The investigation also determined that a police officer's statements alluding that the woman had been raped or sexually assaulted violated a policy prohibiting a member from being "untruthful or knowingly making false, misleading, or malicious statements that reasonably could harm the reputation of the department or its members."
Kushner would not say which members of the police department will be suspended or the length of suspensions because not all have been notified.
In addition to the suspensions, the police department will complete personal conduct training with the Northwestern University Center for Public Safety.
"It's sad that we have to do this, but sometimes it's necessary," Kushner said.