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County hospital police force may get ax

Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Chicago Sun-Times
by STEVE PATTERSON Staff Reporter

Cook County's hospital police force might be disbanded in the wake of mounting complaints about alleged brutality.
During Tuesday's Cook County Board meeting, commissioners heard from a county employee who said she once was slammed against a wall by a hospital cop demanding to see a visitor's pass.
And they heard from the daughter of an elderly man recently roughed up and arrested while parked outside Stroger Hospital, waiting for his wife, who is also a county employee.
In a January petition that was signed by 37 county employees, and obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times, hospital leaders were urged to do something about the "very unprofessional behavior" by members of the 74-officer force and their "irrational and overzealous reactions to situations."
Commissioner Roberto Maldonado said he would formally propose eliminating the $3 million budget for the force. A police department dedicated to Stroger Hospital on the West Side is "a luxury we can do without," added Commissioner Joseph Mario Moreno.
Officers suspended
County Board President Bobbie Steele didn't disagree, saying there have been more complaints lodged about those officers than against guards with the private security firms contracted to protect other county hospitals and clinics.
The hospital police force is run by Ralph Turner, who has made $3,400 in campaign contributions to former Board President John Stroger and his 8th Ward political organization.
Stroger Hospital chief Johnny Brown said three officers are now suspended with pay for their actions in the arrest of Augustin Sotomayor. He is the elderly man questioned about his citizenship by hospital cops on Sept. 11, then roughed up.

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