Police Lieutenant Madison Beadell*

“I thought if you did a good job and stayed out of trouble, you’d get somewhere. Boy, was I naive.”

Department: Police

Employed for: 30+ years, now in a police district

Cred: Awarded five figures from the federal monitor.

Background: Rated highest in academy class.

Gripe: Promotions tend to come from the department’s special units, and one must have clout—"You gotta be heavy"—to get into those, e.g.: Forensic Services, [Horse-] Mounted Patrol, Organized Crime, Legal Affairs ("Tons of cops are lawyers, but to get in you gotta have clout"), Narcotics and Gangs, Bomb and Arson ("You gotta be super heavy"), and Airport Law Enforcement.

"Right after I got out of the academy, when I was working traffic in the Loop during Christmas, this one lieutenant asked me if I wanted to go to [a special unit]. I said, ‘Oh, no, I wanna go back into a district and learn patrol.’ He looked at me like I’d just landed from Mars."

Why the city’s not compliant: Beadell says that those with clout have always climbed to the rank of lieutenant or above quickly—and they still do. An example: Beadell's first test for lieutenant applicants in 1987. "It was the most disgusting thing," Beadell says, claiming that the department used blatant favoritism in scoring applicants. "I can’t tell you how angry it makes me to think about it."

What the Feds say: Federal monitor Noelle Brennan has documented ongoing problems with the tests on which the police base promotions. In her December 18, 2007 report to the court, Brennan notes that she tried to stop a lieutenants’ test earlier that year because "individuals with political connections might have access to the correct answers." The city administered the test anyway. And, in her December 4, 2009 report, Brennan wrote, "We are still negotiating the Hiring Plans for the Chicago Police Department and Fire Department, which were expected to have been completed almost two years ago."

Clout tidbit: The police department’s head of human resources, Tracey Ladner, was moved to police from the city’s law department in 2008 after the Office of Compliance accused her of helping to rig a promotion for the daughter of Brian Crowe, the city’s former corporation counsel. Ladner also got a $10,000 boost in pay.

Feb. 10, 2017 update

The Chicago Police Dept. released a list of officers promoted since 2006 by way of merit selection—identifying the sponsor of each promotee.

*Not his real name.

See "Substantially clouted", the main article for this story.