Eight Bartlett cops to be suspended for 2014 hazing
Bartlett officers fired simulated ammo at 2 others in training exercise, probe finds
Bartlett Police Chief Patrick Ullrich said Friday that he will discipline eight current employees and disband an emergency response team in light of a potentially dangerous hazing activity that occurred during a 2014 training exercise. The hazing was reported only recently.
A third-party investigation by REM Management Services Inc./P4 Security Solutions in Harwood Heights determined that during the daylong exercise Aug. 11, 2014, several officers fired simulated ammunition rounds at two others told to stand in the middle of a training room in Elgin.
All were members of the Bartlett Police Department's Specialized Police Emergency Action Response Team, whose task it is to serve warrants and mitigate potentially dangerous situations, Ullrich said.
One of the two officers in whose direction the others fired reported the incident to a commander Jan. 31, starting the investigation that is now nearing a conclusion.
That officer stated that he was hit by the simulated ammo several times, including on his arm and leg. Though he did not seek medical attention, the officer said the rounds left a permanent paint mark on his arm and veins protruding from the leg where he was hit.
Ullrich said the incident, which involved the firing of possibly up to 30 to 50 rounds in the direction of the two officers' legs and feet, violated several rules of the department.
"Let me be clear: This kind of conduct, regardless of its intent, is unacceptable and will not continue," Ullrich said in a written statement. "While the officers involved may not have intended ill-will, it demonstrated extremely poor judgment, lack of professionalism and placed officers at risk of injury. Our commitment to professionalism is something that guides our everyday work to serve our community. Whenever any officer engages in conduct that is counter to that commitment, we need to take immediate, corrective action."
Ullrich added that the investigation did not reveal any pattern of such behavior during training exercises.
All the officers involved were notified Friday of the imminent disciplinary action; they have the right to appeal to Bartlett's board of fire and police commissioners.
Ullrich said the officers have not made any statement regarding their intention to accept or contest the suspensions.
"I know all of them regret it," Ullrich said.
The suspensions are expected to range from five to 10 days, with supervisors facing the higher level of discipline, he added. To maintain the strength of the department, the suspensions likely are to be staggered.
In place of the now-disbanded SPEAR Team, Bartlett police will rely on its partnerships with both the Northern Illinois Police Alarm System and DuPage County sheriff's office in serving high-risk warrants, Ullrich said.