Troubles at the Northern Illinois University police department continue to prove both embarrassing and expensive.
First, there is the money paid to former Lt. Kartik Ramakrishnan not to work for the department any longer. Under the terms of a settlement with the university, Ramakrishnan is receiving his $92,000 salary for a year, and was paid $25,000 for career counseling.
Ramakrishnan had successfully appealed his firing from the department on the grounds that he had already been disciplined for mishandling evidence in a rape case against former NIU officer Andrew Rifkin. His former boss, Chief Donald Grady, also lost his job in the wake of the Rifkin case.
As of this week, NIU also will be paying Deputy Police Chief Darren Mitchell not to come to work. Mitchell, who earns a salary of about $140,000 a year, has been implicated in something that apparently requires an investigation by Illinois State Police. Mitchell served as interim chief before Tom Phillips was hired as chief in August.
If there is a bright side to the situation, it is that much of the problems still making news are from before Phillips became chief.
Hopefully, the state police will not need any of the materials seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in their sweeping search of the department early in 2013. Nothing has come of that search, the warrant for which named Grady and former Executive Vice President Eddie Williams.
Speaking of Grady, he has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against NIU, alleging he was unfairly terminated from his $205,000-a-year position. Grady claims that he was railroaded out of the department in retaliation for investigating the “coffee fund” and other internal matters, discriminated against because he is black, and that his rights to due process were violated.
We’ve said before that NIU officials’ decision to remove Grady in light of the Rifkin matter and his failure “to appropriately supervise” the department seemed the proper move, and if Grady has to be paid to go away as Ramakrishnan has, that’s for the best.
But the costs of removing high-salaried people both temporarily and permanently are starting to mount and it is growing tiresome.
No doubt the bad publicity also is growing tiresome for the rank-and-file officers, who obviously should not be judged based on the actions of current and former superiors.
All of us would like to see an end to the controversy at the NIU police department. We hope the state police can conclude their investigation quickly, appropriate steps will be taken as a result and the department can truly start to move on.