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Charles v. Wilson

AUGUST 3, 1964.

THOMAS CHARLES, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES,

v.

ORLANDO W. WILSON, SUPERINTENDENT OF POLICE OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO, PAUL W. GOODRICH, ET AL., MEMBERS OF THE POLICE BOARD OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO, WILLIAM E. CAHILL, ET AL., MEMBERS OF AND CONSTITUTING THE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO, ALVIN L. WEBER, COMPTROLLER OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO, AND WILLIAM G. MILOTA, TREASURER OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. CHARLES S. DOUGHERTY, Judge, presiding. Reversed.

MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE MURPHY DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT.

Rehearing denied September 21, 1964.

This is a declaratory judgment action brought by a number of Chicago Police Captains. Acting on a motion for summary judgment, the trial court entered a declaratory judgment order that "General Orders" of the Superintendent of Police, in establishing the positions of "District Commander" and "District Watch Commander," and in prescribing duties for such positions, are illegal and void. Defendants appeal.

The record consists of the pleadings and exhibits, answers to interrogatories, and affidavits. The judgment order recited, inter alia, that the position designated "District Commander" is the same as Captain of Police, and is within the civil service system and not an "exempt" position; that "Watch Commander" is the same as Lieutenant; that the assignment of Lieutenants to act as "District Commanders" and Captains as "Watch Commanders" constitutes a downgrading and demotion of the Captains, depriving them of rights and duties of Captain; that all parties concede and the court finds that Superintendent of Police Wilson "was not motivated by any ill will and his only purpose was to improve the operation of the Police Department, notwithstanding that his actions with reference thereto were in violation of the Civil Service law applicable."

It is defendants' theory that (1) the Civil Service Act specifically authorizes the creation of exempt positions above the grade of Police Captain, and (2) the assignment of duties to police personnel is a matter of discretion with the department head.

Early in 1960, a major reorganization of the police force was commenced, and Orlando W. Wilson was appointed Superintendent of Police. At a meeting on July 5, 1960, of the Police Board of the City of Chicago, a resolution was adopted, under which the Superintendent of Police was authorized to reorganize the department, as follows:

"Be It Resolved that the Board hereby confers authority upon the Superintendent to reorganize the department and its chain of command, to fix authority and responsibility of various positions and component units and prescribe their titles, and to create, alter, or abolish titles, positions or units as he sees fit, such authority to be exercised by the Superintendent through Department General Orders subject to the after-the-fact approval or disapproval of the Board at its next subsequent meeting.

"Nothing in the foregoing resolution is intended to confer authority upon the Superintendent to alter civil service titles, ranks or positions."

On or about September 8, 1960, the Budget Proposals of the Department of Police for the year 1961 were submitted to the Civil Service Commission for study. The proposals included the new position of "District Commander," listed as exempt from classified service, at a salary rate of $12,384. After consideration, the Commission concluded that the position was an exempt one and designated a Title Code number to describe it, and thus recommended no change in the Budget Proposals as originally submitted. The post or position of District Watch Commander was not included in any determinations and was not investigated or acted upon by the Commission, nor did the technical staff of the Commission investigate the duties. On December 8, 1960, in legislative session, the City Council approved the 1961 budget, which contained the position of District Commander as a grade above that of Captain.

On December 15, 1961, the Superintendent of Police issued General Order No. 61-88, which established the exempt position of District Commander. The duties and responsibilities of the District Commander were summarized in the General Order. On the same date, the Superintendent issued General Order No. 61-89, which recited the duties and responsibilities of Police Captains assigned to duty as District Watch Commanders. The Police Board of the City of Chicago consented to the Superintendent's action in establishing the position and duties of the District Commanders.

In December, 1961, Orlando W. Wilson, Superintendent of Police, made assignments of "District Commanders" and "Watch Commanders." Twenty-one persons were assigned as "District Commanders," five of the persons, so assigned, being civil service Lieutenants and the remainder being civil service Captains.

Plaintiffs contend that the position designated as "District Commander" is, in fact, the position of Captain of Police as it has existed for many years, and it is not exempt from civil service status or regulation, since it is not above the rank of Captain. Plaintiffs also contend that the duties presently performed by affiants as "Watch Commanders" are substantially the same duties performed when they were Police Lieutenants, and this resulted, for all intents and purposes, as a demotion from the full enjoyment of their civil service position of Police Captain. They argue that the Superintendent of Police is without legal authority to create the position of "District Commander" and to exempt it from civil service or to place others than civil service Captains therein; that General Orders Nos. 61-88 and 61-89, issued December 15, 1961, which purport to create the positions of "District Commander" and "District Watch Commander," and to define their duties and responsibilities, are illegal and void.

Plaintiffs submitted affidavits setting forth the duties of Captains before and after the issuance of the General Orders. Captain Maurice Higgins, for example, in an affidavit, stated that "as Captain of Police . . . he was in charge of a larger number of personnel than presently assigned to said District under the reorganization, after the merger and consolidation of parts of other districts, . . .; that the duties of District Commander are the same duties performed by this affiant, and other Captains of Police . . . prior to said reorganization." He further stated that the duties presently performed by the affiants as "Watch Commanders" are substantially the same as they had performed as Police Lieutenants, and "Watch Commanders" are not receiving the higher duties and responsibilities they had expected when promoted from Lieutenant to Captain. He further stated as Lieutenant of Police he performed all of the duties now being performed by him as "Watch Commander," and that the three "Watch Commanders" assigned to his district are all performing the duties formerly performed by them as Lieutenants of Police. He pointed out that there is no classification of "Watch Commander" and no civil service verification of the position. He considers it downgrading and a demotion to have to do what he had formerly done as a Lieutenant.

Superintendent of Police Orlando W. Wilson, in an affidavit in support of defendants' contentions that the acts of the Superintendent were within his discretionary powers, and that the position of "District Commander" differs in kind from the position of Police Captain, alleged substantially the following: (1) The prime and basic characteristic of the civil service rank of Captain of Police is the responsibility for the administration and control of a major unit of operation. The function of a district station is to house prisoners and to serve as administrative headquarters and base of operation for the patrol force. For many years, district locations were dictated by population increases and the absorption of suburban towns. As the result of the mobility of the patrolman and his ability to communicate, the district system was ...


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