Preck­win­kle team redacts most of IG re­port on SUV

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - LINE OF DUTY - By Gre­gory Pratt [email protected]­ Twit­ter @roy­al­pratt

Cook County Board Pres­i­dent Toni Preck­win­kle on Wed­nes­day con­tin­ued to keep se­cret de­tails in a re­port that pre­ceded the fir­ing of her se­cu­rity chief, re­leas­ing a heav­ily redacted doc­u­ment in re­sponse to a records re­quest.

County In­spec­tor Gen­eral Patrick Blan­chard last month found that a county SUV used pri­mar­ily by Preck­win­kle se­cu­rity chief Del­win Gadlen was im­prop­erly used to trans­port po­lit­i­cal ma­te­ri­als tout­ing the board pres­i­dent and her al­lies. She then or­dered a re­view of the de­tail’s prac­tices, and the Chicago may­oral can­di­date’s ad­min­is­tra­tion re­leased the ini­tial re­sults Wed­nes­day in the form of a three-page doc­u­ment dated Oct. 26.

Ev­ery­thing in the re­port af­ter each sub­head­ing is blacked out, how­ever.

Those sub­head­ings high­light sev­eral “ar­eas of con­cern,” in­clud­ing a “lack of man­age­ment over­sight and fail­ure to ad­e­quately fol­low chain of com­mand,” “fail­ure to re­port the theft of a county ve­hi­cle,” “fail­ure to im­ple­ment a pol­icy to ad­e­quately se­cure ve­hi­cles used to trans­port the ex­ec­u­tive” and “need to reg­u­larly con­duct risk, vul­ner­a­bil­ity and threat as­sess­ments.”

“As a re­sult (of the re­view), it was de­ter­mined that a change in lead­er­ship was war­ranted,” Preck­win­kle spokes­woman Becky Sch­lik­er­man said. “While we do not com­ment on per­son­nel mat­ters, it is im­per­a­tive to main­tain the safety of the pres­i­dent and the se­cu­rity de­tail while also be­ing trans­par­ent.”

The re­port fol­lows the bizarre in­ci­dent dur­ing the early morn­ing hours fol­low­ing the 2016 elec­tion when a Chevro­let Ta­hoe as­signed to Preck­win­kle’s se­cu­rity team was found aban­doned near south­west sub­ur­ban Le­mont. In its cargo area, in­ves­ti­ga­tors found bags of

The County Board pres­i­dent or­dered a re­view of the se­cu­rity de­tail’s prac­tices, and her ad­min­is­tra­tion re­leased ini­tial re­sults Wed­nes­day in a 3-page doc­u­ment dated Oct. 26.

po­lit­i­cal lit­er­a­ture, a but­ton with an im­age of Preck­win­kle and a dry clean­ing re­ceipt with the phone num­ber of her chief of se­cu­rity, Gadlen.

Blan­chard’s re­port did not say which can­di­dates the po­lit­i­cal ma­te­ri­als sup­ported. But the Cook County sher­iff’s of­fice, which re­sponded to the scene, took pho­tos show­ing the ma­te­ri­als pro­moted the cam­paign of now-State’s At­tor­ney Kim Foxx, among oth­ers.

Blan­chard’s re­port con­cluded the SUV was im­prop­erly used to trans­port po­lit­i­cal ma­te­ri­als but did not say who was driv­ing when it was ditched or who placed the po­lit­i­cal ma­te­ri­als in the ve­hi­cle. It did con­clude that the SUV was driven pri­mar­ily by Preck­win­kle’s chief of se­cu­rity.

On Elec­tion Day 2016, Gadlen drove Preck­win­kle to cam­paign events but said he did so in his per­sonal car, ac­cord­ing to the re­port. She told in­ves­ti­ga­tors he took her home around 9:30 p.m.

A sher­iff’s po­lice of­fi­cer found the ve­hi­cle stuck in the mud with its en­gine still warm, and a wit­ness told po­lice that the driver had aban­doned the Ta­hoe and walked away, Blan­chard said in his re­port.

He did not find any wrong­do­ing by Preck­win­kle’s of­fice, but the in­ci­dent and her han­dling of it has led to crit­i­cism from county com­mis­sion­ers and some of her op­po­nents in the Chicago may­oral race.

When in­ter­viewed by Blan­chard’s in­ves­ti­ga­tors, Gadlen said the ve­hi­cle was stolen, though the al­leged theft was never re­ported to po­lice, the in­spec­tor gen­eral’s re­port said. Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, Gadlen said he had “no idea how the ve­hi­cle was stolen.”

“How would I know how the ma­te­ri­als got there?” he said. Asked again, the chief said the ve­hi­cle was stolen and that “(a) rea­son­able mind could say that the ma­te­rial could have been planted,” Blan­chard said. When asked whether he was cu­ri­ous to learn who stole the SUV, the chief said he had no in­ter­est and that such oc­cur­rences are com­mon­place, call­ing it “a joyride.”

Preck­win­kle’s of­fice has said she didn’t per­mit or au­tho­rize the county ve­hi­cle to be used to dis­sem­i­nate cam­paign ma­te­ri­als. She was not in the Ta­hoe that day and rarely trav­els in the ve­hi­cle, her of­fice said.

When it was found, all the tires were slashed, as was the driver’s seat, the cen­ter con­sole and the dash­board, ac­cord­ing to the in­spec­tor gen­eral’s re­port.

Blan­chard’s in­ves­ti­ga­tors spoke to sher­iff’s and county of­fi­cials ex­pe­ri­enced in ex­ec­u­tive pro­tec­tion who said the dam­age “ap­pears in­con­sis­tent with dam­age typ­i­cally as­so­ci­ated with ve­hi­cle theft.” In­stead, the dam­age “looked hur­ried and staged,” they said, ac­cord­ing to Blan­chard. All keys to the SUV are ac­counted for and there were no signs of it be­ing forcibly started, the re­port said.

It’s un­clear how the ve­hi­cle ended up ditched. The Ta­hoe pre­vi­ously was driven to a county se­cu­rity spe­cial­ist’s home and left out­side, Blan­chard said.

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