HARVEY, Ill. (CBS) — Harvey Mayor Christopher Clark announced Friday that he has asked police Chief Joseph John Moseley to step down and will conduct a national search for new leadership, amid a fight to end corruption in the south suburb and its police department.
Clark also took aim at Officer Olivia Cobbins, who earlier this week told CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov that while she had been hired to crack down on police corruption in Harvey, she ended up resigning in disgust only after a few months on the job.
“This week, I have completed a sweeping change to our Police Department. The priority of this city must be to have trained, elite police officers on the streets, patrolling them, to ensure that criminals cannot run and disrupt this community,” Mayor Clark said.
Clark beat longtime Harvey Mayor Eric Kellogg in the 2019 race. He said before that as a Harvey alderman in 2015, he asked the U.S. Department of Justice, the Illinois State Police, the Cook County Sheriff’s office, and other bodies to help deal with “rampant corruption.”
“The City of Harvey was raided twice by the federal authorities and once by the state police. In those raids, some officers were arrested, some are serving sentences. I appreciate them offering some help in weeding out the corruption,” Clark said. “My administration has been pro-active in fighting this corruption, but we need assistance. So once again, I am calling on my friends in law enforcement and government local and higher for help. There is a culture of corruption that has to be stopped. Enough is enough.”
Clark said beginning with Cobbins, the city asked five civilian members of the police department to step down for various reasons – some for cause, others to make it possible to increase the number of police officers on the street.
“Some have chosen to resign to avoid termination,” he said. “It’s time to trim the fat, and put the limited funds we do have where it will be most effective – on the streets, fighting crime.”
Cobbins told Kozlov this week that her passion for police reform is why she signed on in August as the head of internal affairs for the Harvey Police Department. The former Chicago Police officer said she had Mayor Clark’s blessing to clean up misconduct.
But this week, with less than three months on the job, Cobbins handed in her letter of resignation.
“I couldn’t stand – in the position that I was in, as a woman, and as a police officer – and see the level of corruption and misconduct in Harvey,” Cobbins told Kozlov. “I couldn’t stay.”
In her letter, Cobbins focuses on an incident at Thornton Township High School in October. She said an officer came to her with allegations that Harvey’s deputy chief punched a handcuffed student in the chest. Cobbins said when she tried to investigate, police higher-ups blocked her from accessing evidence – including body cam video.
“And it wasn’t the first time,” Cobbins said this week. “This was more like the third time that my access was restricted.”
She also said a higher-up laughed at her attempts to look into death threats against a Harvey officer.
“When his cries for help were laughed at, I knew I couldn’t stay,” Cobbins said this week.
Clark on Friday evening accused Cobbins of never coming to him to ask for help or to identify where the corruption in the police department was coming from.
“To Officer Cobbins, my doors have always been open. You never came to me to ask for help or identify the source of the corruption. You’re as guilty as those corrupt officers in the department. It was abundantly clear you were not qualified to fulfill your role in internal affairs,” Clark said. “That’s why you were being asked to leave IAD and return to patrol.”
Clark also noted that he had asked current police Chief Moseley to take over this year, and some progress has ben made in fighting corruption in Harvey since – such as giving all patrol officers body cams and arming them with stun guns.
“This is only the beginning, but we should be farther. I do not feel like we are moving as quickly as we need to be,” Clark said. “Therefore today, I am asking Chief Moseley to step down in his role as Chief.
Clark said he is also launching a national search for new leadership – and is requesting more assistance from local, county, and federal authorities to help end corruption.
“The problem is simple. We have a corrupt police department that is going change. Right now,” Clark said. “We need officers who share my priorities and we need the resources to pay them. The change starts this week and people of Harvey need to know, their streets will be safer and I will take every step that needs to taken to do that.”