North Chicago’s police chief has been placed on leave while the city investigates six separate allegations of excessive force by officers.
Mayor Leon Rockingham Jr. announced the move Tuesday afternoon, saying Chief Mike Newsome would remain on paid leave pending the outcome of an investigation by a retired Illinois State Police official.
A divided North Chicago City Council had already voted last month to suspend the chief while the city looks into claims of police brutality, but Rockingham at that time said he would wait until those investigations were completed before making any move to remove the chief, even temporarily.
The mayor’s change of course comes after at least three more people have stepped forward with claims that police used excessive force on them during traffic stops or other police calls, often after the subjects attempted to evade or resist officers.
City leaders have also come under mounting pressure from the public to reform the department since the November death of Darrin Hanna from what the Lake County coroner classified as multiple trauma. Hanna, a 45-year-old North Chicago resident with a history of arrests, had been hospitalized for a week after police responded to a domestic disturbance call at his home.
Since 2005, North Chicago police have been the subject of at least 16 claims of excessive force and, of those, at least 10 lawsuits have been filed against the city.
Rockingham also announced that he has named retired Lake Forest Police Chief Michael Hosking to serve as interim chief while Newsome is on leave.
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