Updated: 12:28 p.m.
Darien residents are questioning the city's vetting process in selecting its police chief nominee after Mayor Kathleen Weaver announced early Friday that Chicago police veteran Ernest Brown was her pick for the job.
Brown, the deputy superintendent of the Chicago Police Department's patrol division, was selected from roughly 140 candidates to head the Darien Police Department. The Darien City Council is set to vote Monday night on whether to confirm his appointment.
“If anyone does just a little bit of research on Mr. Ernest T. Brown, you will find that there are some red flags,” wrote Josh Tibbs in a comment on Darien Patch.
“I am disappointed that when you search his name on the Internet, there is so much baggage attached to him,” wrote John Dvorak in another Patch comment.
Concerned residents cite several incidents, which City Administrator Bryon Vana said on Sunday the city was well aware of throughout the interview process.
In 2008, Brown was removed from consideration to head the Buckeye, AZ, Police Department after Buckeye police officials said they discovered inconsistencies in his record, the Arizona Republic reported at the time.
When Brown applied to the Buckeye job, he listed his title as assistant deputy superintendent of the Chicago Police Department, although he had recently been demoted to lieutenant overseeing the detectives in five districts, the Republic said.
Brown told the Republic that he accidentally submitted an old version of his resume.
"I certainly had no intention on my part of deceiving anybody," he told the Republic.
Brown named in several lawsuits related to police conduct
Residents have also referenced a February 2001 incident in which Brown ordered a raid on a community basketball tournament at the Chicago Park District’s Stateway Gardens Field House.
Brown, then commander of the Chicago police public housing unit, ordered officers to search the roughly 250 people at the tournament after he said police received a tip about potential gang activity, according to a May 2001 Chicago Tribune story.
A class action lawsuit filed after the raid said Brown ordered more than 20 officers to enter the field house without either a warrant or probable cause. Over the course of two hours, the complaint alleged officers searched every person at the event, including a 1-year-old baby.
One person was arrested for disorderly conduct after objecting to the search of his 9- and 10-year-old sons, the complaint said.
Brown told the Tribune that officers also found two guns in the building and a man in the parking lot carrying a small amount of marijuana.
He told the Tribune that based on the tip, which he said came from a trusted source, the police "took necessary action using available resources."
The city of Chicago reached a settlement in December 2003 for $500,000.
Andrew Sledd filed suit against several Chicago police officers, including Brown, alleging they entered his apartment with a battering ram without identifying themselves as the police. The officers deny that they failed to identify themselves, according to an opinion from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Sledd approached the officers with a gun, thinking they were intruders, according to the opinion.
Officer Elroy Baker shot Sledd, then hit him in the head and kicked him in the groin, the opinion said.
Police said they found several bags of cocaine in the home and charged Sledd with attempted murder. He was found not guilty by the Cook County Circuit Court and cleared of all charges.
The officer who led the raid, Guy Lindsay, was later fired from the Chicago Police Department for using cocaine, the opinion said. Sledd claimed that another officer would have had time to plant cocaine in his apartment on the night of the raid.
The 7th Circuit found the district court erred in dismissing Sledd’s claims against the officers and remanded the case to trial.
The city reached a $687,000 settlement with Sledd in 1998, according to his lawyers.
In another case, a Chicago man accused Brown of excessive force during a June 2005 incident in the man’s apartment building.
Corey Brownlee filed a lawsuit alleging that Brown followed him without probable cause from a CTA stop to Brownlee’s apartment building.
Brownlee said in the complaint that a security guard restrained him while Brown repeatedly struck him in the head with a walkie-talkie. Brownlee sustained another injury to his forehead when he fell to the ground, according to the complaint.
A Cook County judge found there was no probable cause to arrest Brownlee and in July 2005 dismissed the charges Brown filed against him.
The city of Chicago reached a $36,000 settlement with Brownlee in March 2006.
City aware of and unconcerned by Brown's background
City Administrator Bryon Vana discounted any suggestion that Darien officials were unaware of those two incidents.
“Both have been explained by (Brown) and are not material to the great career he’s had over 28 years with the Chicago Police Department and with the U.S. Air Force before that,” he said. He said the city ran an extensive background check.
Throughout the interview process, Vana said he was impressed with Brown’s strategic development of “preemptive, innovative ways to deal with crime.” Brown’s resume is available for review on the City of Darien website.
Vana also cited a Fox Chicago News profile of Brown.
"That zeal for making the city a better place to live, work and raise children has been exhibited by his career -- so while he's a great police officer -- that's just grown, as he's grown in rank," Chicago District 15 Commander Walter Green told Fox about Brown.
Brown has received seven department commendations and one special commendation, according to his resume. He also has received two community service awards from Chicago organizations.
Weaver was unable to be reached for comment.
Every member of the City Council has had the opportunity to interview Brown, Vana said.
A five-member citizens search committee, which Weaver selected with the help of recommendations from the aldermen, helped narrow the pool of applicants from 100 down to 10, Vana said.
City officials and three members of the citizens committee interviewed those 10 candidates to determine the top three, he said.
Several residents are mobilizing a group to attend Monday’s City Council meeting to dispute Brown’s appointment prior to the aldermen's vote.
“The taxpayers of Darien need to go to the City Council meeting on Monday or write/call their alderman and tell them they don't want their hard earned money going to paying for an individual with a history of violating people's civil rights,” Goodwin wrote in another Darien Patch comment.
Vana encouraged residents to attend the meeting and share their thoughts.
“Come to the meeting and meet Ernest Brown,” he said. “Let your voice be heard and stay involved in things.”
If the City Council votes to install Brown as police chief, Vana said he would likely assume the role within 30 to 60 days.
The City Council meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. Monday in the council chambers at Darien City Hall, 1702 Plainfield Road.