Woodstock, Ill. police officer Sgt. Charles "Chip" Amati is under investigation for using police resources to search his girlfriend’s criminal record and sending her 12-year-old daughter racy text messages.
The Chicago Tribune obtained copies of text messages Amati sent his girlfriend’s daughter. In one, Amati wrote, "Send me some sexy pictures!" with an emoticon heart. A few days before that, he wrote, “Hi beautiful” and told her to “feel free to send me a pic any time” (winky face).
The trouble started soon after the girl’s mother started dating Amati, 48, in spring 2012. He gave her daughter a gold “Princess” pendant that summer. She confronted him angrily and took back the key to her apartment. She then told her 12 and 10-year-old daughters to delete his number from their phones and to tell her if he contacted them. That’s when her 12-year-old revealed the text messages.
Amati, who has worked for the police department for 24 years and is the city’s highest-paid employee, earning $93,000 before overtime, was suspended without pay for 30 day. He can spread out the days over a year.
The girl’s parents think the punishment is too light.
"He's no better than who he's arrested," the father said.
Amati has not yet been charged with using the taxpayer-funded Law Enforcement Agencies Data System (LEADS) to dig up information on his girlfriend. State police said that an officer who uses the database for personal reasons can be charged with official misconduct, a felony.
Assistant State's Attorney Michael Combs said Amati would face departmental discipline, and that was enough.
“This guy made some serious mistakes, but I have to consider the background of somebody too," he said. "He'd been a police officer for a long time, and he made a mistake."
Police Chief Robert Lowen called the 30-day suspension “all-encompassing” for the texts and the database misuse, according to the Northwest Herald.
"We feel the discipline is appropriate in light of the circumstances, and we also feel there is sufficient basis for the imposition of this discipline," Lowen said.