Disqualified from the Chicago Police Department hiring eligibility list? This page is a guide on your options and an overview of the appeals process. It comes from me, Chris Shepherd, a lawyer helping Chicago police applicants appeal hiring disqualifications.
Whatever your reasons for applying to the Chicago Police Department, receiving a disqualification (DQ) notice from CPD Human Resources is a gut-wrenching disappointment. But, it doesn't have to mean the end of your road to the badge; you can still become an officer through the appeals process. Neither the investigations section nor the Human Resources division has the final say. It is the Chicago Human Resources Board, upon the recommendation of the hearing officer assigned to your case, that has the ultimate say.
As you know, after you have passed the POWER test and drug urinalysis, you enter the background investigation process. Chicago police applicants can be disqualified for a variety of reasons in the background process:
- Insufficient Contact with the United States,
- Criminal Conduct,
- Drug Use,
- Conduct Involving Dishonesty,
- History of Violence,
- Unlawful Weapons Use,
- Poor Driving Record,
- Poor Employment History,
- Adverse Military Record and
- Excessive Debt.
Should I Appeal? Making the Decision
Appealing a Chicago Police Hiring disqualification is a big decision, one that will test your resolve and commitment to becoming a Chicago Police Officer. As with any decision, you must weigh benefit versus risk.
On one hand, appealing costs time and money and can lead to added anxiety. Attorney's fees for these cases generally run between $2,500-$3,500 depending on the facts of your case. An appeal can take several "court" dates (hearings are actually held in Chicago City Hall) over several months. Throughout the course of your appeal, you may be dogged by the uncertainty of it all. If you are the type of person who cannot handle risk and uncertainty, the appeals process will be hard on you. And after all that, there is no guarantee you will succeed.
On the other hand, winning your appeal can have enormous benefits: a lifetime of increased earning potential, the joy of service in an honorable profession and the pride of accomplishment, to name just a few. It is no exaggeration to say that winning your appeal can totally change the course of your life for the better.
What Are My Chances of Winning My Appeal?
I always tell clients that the chances of successfully appealing a Chicago Police Department disqualification fall on a spectrum.
On one end of the spectrum, there are those who have a smaller chance of winning their appeal. These are people who were disqualified for "serious" reasons such as felony convictions, using or selling drugs such as cocaine or heroin or involvement in any crimes of violence, especially those involving a domestic aspect or that were very recent. This is not to say people in this position have no chance of success, but rather, that they have a tougher road ahead if they do appeal.
On the other end of the spectrum, appeals based on an error of fact have an increased chance of success. For example, suppose you were disqualified for being terminated from a job. You know that the termination was due to office politics or some other reason not related to your job performance. This is an example of something factually wrong about the disqualification decision, that you can use to increase your chance of getting back on the eligibility list.
There is also the rest of your record to consider. Is the reason you were disqualified merely one mark on an otherwise perfect or excellent record? It is easy to get lost in the idea that the written rules totally govern the process, but humans run the Chicago Police appeals process, not robots. A strong military record, lack of any criminal background, strong work history and many other facts about your life indicating that you are a person of honor and integrity can make the decision-maker in your case want to help you.
Should I Appeal On My Own Without the Help of a Lawyer?
You have the right to counsel during your appeal. Should you take advantage of this right or do it on your own?
The problem with doing an appeal on your own is that you do not know what you do not know. You are unfamiliar with the rules governing the proceeding, the legal standards and the "unwritten" rules. I have seen DQ'd applicants conduct their own Chicago police appeal hearings with terrible results. Not only did they not understand the basic rules of the "game" they did not know how to present their arguments effectively. This is not about intelligence, but rather, a knowledge of the rules and standards governing your case, what matters, what should be left out and how to present your case in a way that makes the decision maker want you to succeed.
Call for a Consultation
Ultimately, you need someone who is familiar with the process to give you a reality check on your chances of appeal. Is it a total long shot or is their a good reason to invest time and resources into pursuing an appeal? Only someone who knows the appeals process and the rules governing them can answer this. If you are interested in an evaluation of your case, call 312.396.4112 or contact me online.