By J. Coyden Palmer, Chicago Crusader
Leaders at Chicago State University fired the school’s police chief, Patricia Walsh, nearly one year after the Chicago Crusader ran an exclusive that the university’s police department members gave her a “no-confidence” vote.
Walsh was reportedly fired on May 23 by interim president, Dr. Rachel Lindsey. School officials would not confirm the information, but multiple sources at CSU, including some within the police department, told the Crusader Walsh was fired along with the university’s general counsel, Patrick Cage. After she was allowed to clean out her office, Walsh was escorted from the campus by two CSU officers. She was then driven home by another officer, according to several sources.
Walsh was the highest ranking police officer in the history of the Chicago Police Department when she retired in 2015. At that time, she had achieved the rank of Deputy Chief of Patrol in Area South. Shortly thereafter, she came to CSU. But from the beginning, Walsh ran into trouble at CSU with both students and officers alike.
CSU officers complained that Walsh was an ineffective communicator during her time as chief. It is the same complaint many Chicago police officers made against Walsh when she was with that agency.
When CSU students protested the state’s budget cuts to their school in 2016 by briefly blocking the Dan Ryan expressway, Walsh allowed officers from the Chicago Police Department to issue violations to the students, who had marched back to the campus.
The Illinois State Police, which patrols all local expressways, refused to cite the students, and merely escorted them off the roadway shortly after the protest began. CSU officers were also against citing the University’s own students. Walsh relented to the wishes of CPD, which did not sit well with students or officers.
Last year, CSU officers gave a “no-confidence” vote to Walsh. Their reasons included Walsh consulting with Chicago police commanders on issues that concerned the CSU police department; failure to disseminate information down the chain of command correctly; restricting officers to campus patrol only, which they say took visibility away from the community; and failure to address equipment that was broken or outdated.
The Chicago Crusader reached out to Sabrina Land, director of communications at CSU for comment on this story. She said the University does not comment on personnel matters. When pressed by the Crusader asking if there was a police chief at all on the campus, she again stated the University does not comment on personnel matters.
Land also would not comment on Cage’s firing and became angry when the Crusader questioned why the University could not confirm if Cage or Walsh were still employees.
On May 24, at 2:15 p.m. the Chicago Crusader called the Chicago State University police department in an effort to reach Walsh, and was told by the person who answered the phone that Walsh no longer worked there. An hour later, a call to Cage’s campus phone number was answered with a message that the number was no longer taking messages. A person at the University’s switchboard said they had no listing for Cage in the system.
As for Cage, he has been in the crosshairs of faculty and students for years. Many have complained that he lost too many cases for the University, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. Cage was at the helm in 2013 when federal Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer leveled the University with an order to pay nearly $250,000 in legal fees to the attorneys of two plaintiffs who successfully sued CSU because it had violated the First Amendment rights of the University’s now defunct school newspaper, Tempo.
The University was upset that the newspaper was running what it perceived to be negative articles about the school and administration, under the leadership of then- president, Dr. Wayne Watson. Student editor George Providence Jr. and Tempo faculty advisor, Steven Moore, claimed that they were retaliated against by the university. Shortly after the lawsuit, CSU stopped publishing a school newspaper.
Ironically, Watson was seen on the South Side campus by the Crusader reporter on May 24. Many at CSU say Watson is seen around campus on a fairly regular basis.
Sources told the Crusader that Lindsey, met with several CSU officers the day Walsh was fired and was seeking input from the officers before making a decision on naming an interim chief. Lindsey reportedly left the meeting with the officers with an understanding of what the officers at CSU have been going through in recent years.
Morale on the force is low, according to Raymond Violetto of the Metropolitan Alliance of Police, the union that represents CSU officers.