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Our View: City should rethink sergeant's discipline

Published: Monday, Dec. 9, 2013 10:44 a.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Dec. 9, 2013 11:34 a.m. CDT

We’re disappointed with the Woodstock Police Department and the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office in their handling of allegations made against veteran Sgt. Charles “Chip” Amati.

The mother of a 12-year-old girl claims that Amati texted her daughter and asked her to send him some “sexy pictures.” The Northwest Herald has not spoken with the mother, but according to the Chicago Tribune, she once dated Amati, who also secretly gave the 12-year-old a “Princess” necklace.

Woodstock Police Chief Robert Lowen appropriately asked the Illinois State Police to investigate the matter, and the agency also learned that Amati used the restricted Law Enforcement Agencies Data System to check on the mother’s criminal background.

It is – not might be –  illegal to use LEADS for anything other than legitimate law enforcement purposes, which Amati, of all people, should know, since he supervised LEADS for the department.

So what was the punishment for these actions? A 30-day suspension from Amati’s $93,314-a-year job, which he can serve incrementally.

No criminal charges were filed, and only in the aftermath of a hostile and angry reaction from the public was Amati removed from his duty as public information officer, which this week alone would have included providing details to the media on the arrest of a 22-year-old man who was exchanging inappropriate texts and images with a 16-year-old girl.

Perhaps the irony was too great.

We’re dumbfounded by Lowen’s explanation of what he considered an appropriate punishment, and just as astonished at McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office Criminal Chief Michael Combs’ rationale for not charging Amati for the LEADS violation.

“I felt, based upon character and attitude and his years of service, that it wasn’t appropriate to charge him. He’s a human being, we all make mistakes and we’re all fallible,” Combs said on Nov. 27.

We doubt that’s a common statement made by prosecutors during grand jury. The McHenry County Jail is full of human beings who made mistakes – they’re called crimes.

As for calling out mistakes, the way this case was handled is a big one.

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