CHICAGO – The city’s police superintendent said Monday he was stepping down as head of the beleaguered department, but he would not say what role two videotaped beatings involving off-duty officers had in his decision.
Last month, prosecutors filed felony charges against an officer accused of beating a female bartender. Six other officers were removed from street duty after being accused of assaulting four businessmen in a bar.
Superintendent Philip J. Cline took over in November 2003 and had been expected to retire later this year. On Monday, he referred to the highly publicized incidents only as “these times of challenge.”
To the city’s police officers, the 57-year-old Cline said: “I encourage all of them to rise above any controversy and stay focused on the mission.”
Cline did not take any questions from reporters at a news conference.
Cline said he will stay on until a replacement was found, and he thanked Mayor Richard M. Daley for giving him “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to lead the best police department in the country.”
Daley would not say whether he asked Cline to leave. He said Cline wanted to retire a year ago but stayed at Daley’s request.