With new controversies arising - and old ones returning to the fore as cases come to court - Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III said police officer suspensions are soaring as the agency undertakes a painful but necessary effort to root out corruption.

Bealefeld told The Sun's Tricia Bishop today that while most officers work diligently every day to make the city safer, the department is at an “all-time high” rate of suspensions and disciplinary actions against personnel, though he was unable to provide figures.

“I'm invested in this place, and I don't want the place to get a black eye. Every bad news story about a bad cop, it breaks my heart and hurts me to the core,” Bealefeld said, recognizing that his efforts will lead to more bad news stories.

“Ball your fist up right now as tight as you can and slam your fist into your right eye, that's what it is physically and mentally like for me to do this. But I know I have to do it,” he said. “We have a very small percentage of knuckleheads that we have to throw off the bus, and I can't wait to throw them off the bus.”

His comments came as the first officer convicted in the Majestic body shop kickback scandal was sentenced to eight months in federal prison. Fifteen other officers still await sentencing, and can expect similar sentences, according to federal prosecutors.

Meanwhile, a probe into possible involvement in the aftermath of a teenage girl's shooting last week continues.

Earlier this year, the agency went outside its ranks to the Department of Homeland Security to bring in a new commander for internal affairs