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Residents Meet New Chief Brown During Town Hall Meeting

Ernest Brown joined residents of Ward 2 and elsewhere in Darien Thursday to answer questions.

Ward 2 residents had an opportunity Thursday night to meet during a town hall meeting organized by Alderman Tina Beilke.

About 20 people gathered in the main meeting room at to ask questions and get to know Brown, who most recently served as bureau chief for the Chicago Police Department's patrol division. 

Brown shared his leadership philosophy, which he said centers on performing honorably, fairly and with a sense of transparency.

During the hiring process, Brown said that several of the aldermen asked him why he would want to leave the intensity of Chicago for the comparably sleepy suburb of Darien.

Over the past 10 years, Brown said that he’s stood over the bodies of more than 300 dead or dying people while on the job — and he’s ready for a change.

“I still love law enforcement, I have a lot of energy left, and I want to do it somewhere else,” he said. 

Brown started his career as a tactical officer and narcotics investigator, and worked his way through the ranks to commander of various divisions, including homicide investigations and public housing.

In the mid 90s, Brown was one of 44 sergeants to file a lawsuit against the City of Chicago that alleged the CPD’s sergeant test, which was part of the promotion process, discriminated against minority officers.

While the judge ruled that the test was valid, Brown said that through the suit he succeeded in changing the promotion process to make it more equitable by adding a merit-based component. (Brown was promoted based on his test results prior to the suit’s resolution in 1998.)

“We do a disservice to the public when we maltreat police officers internally and expect them to go outside and deal fairly with the public,” he said.

Addressing concerns

Beilke asked Brown to explain several incidents that among residents in the days following his nomination as Darien’s police chief.

Although he was tapped to head the Buckeye, AZ, police department in 2008, the offer was withdrawn after department officials said they discovered inconsistencies in Brown’s record, the Arizona Republic reported.

The resume Brown submitted to the Buckeye Police Department listed his job title as assistant deputy superintendant, even though he had recently been demoted to lieutenant, according to the report. 

Brown said Thursday that he had two resumes named “EB Resume” with a number on a USB drive and inadvertently submitted the wrong one when applying to the job. 

“There was no effort by me to disguise what rank I was at,” he said.

Brown also addressed a February 2001 incident in which he ordered a raid on a community basketball tournament at the Chicago Park District’s Stateway Gardens Field House.

A credible informant told Brown that there was a high likelihood a shooting would take place at the tournament as retribution for an earlier altercation, he said. 

He sent two sergeants to the scene, who sealed the doors and ordered a search of people at the tournament, which he said resulted in the recovery of two loaded guns. 

class action lawsuit filed after the raid said Brown directed 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.

The city of Chicago reached a settlement in December 2003 for $500,000. 

Brown said the main issue with the incident was that the sergeants didn’t properly document the searches. 

Brown prepares for new role

During a meeting with the Wednesday, Brown said he promised them he would always act with integrity.

“Men and women in law enforcement risk physical safety, their emotional well being and their financial safety,” he said. “They deserve to be treated equitably and honorably at all times.”

Though he has no immediate plans to move to Darien, Brown said it is a possibility if he is able to sell the two homes he owns in Chicago.

“This is an exciting phase in my life,” he said. “I love being a police officer. I think I’m good at it. I’m always striving to be better.”

Beilke said she organized the town hall meeting to give residents an opportunity to meet Brown after what may have seemed to them like a quick hiring process.

“It always makes people feel good when they can put a face to a name, especially when it’s someone as high ranking as the chief of police,” she said.

Darien resident Jim Kiser, who lives across the street from Ward 2, said he got a good impression from the meeting.

“He seemed proactive,” Kiser said. “The most important thing everyone wants is transparency, and that seems like what he wants to do.”

BigCubsFan October 08, 2011 at 02:27 PM
“We do a disservice to the public when we maltreat police officers internally and expect them to go outside and deal fairly with the public,” Oh the irony...

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