The parents of a 12-year-old girl from Woodstock, Ill., are upset after a high-ranking police officer was barely punished for sending their daughter sexually suggestive texts.
The officer in the spotlight is Sgt. Charles “Chip” Amati. Amati is the spokesman for the Woodstock Police Department and has been on the force for 24 years. With a base salary of $90,000 a year, he is one of the city's highest-paid employees.
Amati used to date the mother of the 12-year-old girl whom he texted. After the couple broke up, the mother told her 12- and 10-year-old daughters to delete Amati’s number from their phones. They did, but that apparently didn’t stop Amati from trying to contact them. The officer sent the 12-year-old a text one day saying, “Hi beautiful,” and told her to “feel free to send me a pic any time ;).” In another, Amati wrote, “Send me some sexy pictures!” and included an emoticon and a heart in the message.
The girl showed the messages to her mother, who immediatly reported them to authorities.
While investigating Amati, police discovered he used the state’s Law Enforcement Agencies Database System to research the girl’s mother. Amati was responsible for overseeing the database’s use at the time of his offense. Using the database for non-work-related purposes is a felony.
Despite both of his wrongdoings, Amati wasn’t fired. He was handed just a 30-day suspension. It wasn't until after Amati’s suspension was handed to him that the Chicago Tribune reported his texts to the public. Though outrage ensued, Illinois law forbids further discipline of a police officer after presiding commissioners administer a punishment. Lawyers involved say the law means that short of criminal charges, there is no legal way for Amati to be punished further.
A news release Wednesday from City Manager Roscoe Stelford made this clear.
“Based on the facts of the case … the policies in place and the extensive discussions, it was determined that no further disciplinary action is legally possible, and no further consideration of the issue will be undertaken by the city council or city staff,” the release said.
The city’s relative apathy towards Amati’s actions has left the girl's parents irate.
“There’s a double standard for cops,” the girl’s father said. “It’s hypocrisy.”
Woodstock Councilman Mike Turner is one of many in the community who share the parents' sentiments.
“The situation with Sgt. Amati is troubling for me as a citizen and as a representative of the city,” Turner said in a statement. “Even with the sanctions by the commission, I absolutely understand how members of the community and the family involved in this situation would still be angry and unhappy with the outcome. I share that frustration.”
Another fact for you: Amati isn’t being forced to serve his 30-day suspension over consecutive days. He’s been given an indefinite amount of time to take days off at his discretion that will count towards his suspension. He’s essentially being punished with the occasional three day weekend.