31-year Chicago police commander slams department in going-away message: ‘Disdain’ and ‘lack of respect’

Former Chicago police commander Melvin Roman condemned leadership in a resignation letter handed in Wednesday, months after he was demoted following protests outside of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s home that blocked traffic.

Roman was commander of the 14th district, the district where Lightfoot’s home is located, before he was relegated to the position of captain and then reassigned to co-commander of the 20th district, CWBChicago reported. 

“After over 31 years with the Chicago Police Department, my career has come to an end. I find contemplating retirement similar to contemplating life in general,” Roman wrote. “…I will always be proud to say that I was a Chicago Police Officer, although I cannot be proud of our current Department.”

A Chicago Police officer monitors the scene after a shooting in Chicago, Illinois, on March 14, 2021.  (Photo by KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI / AFP)

He added that in his more than three decades at the department, there is an obvious lack of trust and infighting, adding that the administration “listens to no one.”

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“Officers are the most important aspect of our mission,” Melvin wrote. “They must have trust and faith in us as supervisors to leave the station and fulfill the missions we decide and they do that because they respect and have faith in the MEN AND WOMEN who lead, NOT the rank! This is a fact that some will never understand.”

Police secure the crime scene following a shooting at a tow company garage.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Police secure the crime scene following a shooting at a tow company garage.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Supervisors at the CPD, according to Melvin, “have had the benefit of some of the most prestigious leadership training and still do not know the most fundamental traits of a leader.”

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“Some will claim they do care and maybe they do, but if your outward demeanor exemplifies disdain and a lack of respect, that is what is received. Rank should be perceived as a level of responsibility,” he said. “Even though it’s also authority, you should lead by your character and not by what’s on your collar.”

The department removed Roman from his position as commander in July after people complained of his handling of a protest that took place outside the mayor’s home, saying supervisors did not notify higher-ups about the activity, sources told CBWChicago at the time.

Community activist and congressional candidate Ameena Matthews, center, joins a protest of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot near her home in the Logan Square neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois on May 20, 2021. (Photo by Max Herman/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Community activist and congressional candidate Ameena Matthews, center, joins a protest of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot near her home in the Logan Square neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois on May 20, 2021. (Photo by Max Herman/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

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“Obviously Lightfoot didn’t like the handling of the protesters last night,” one source told the outlet.

The mayor and Chicago’s police union have butted heads over the course of her administration. Lightfoot has received some criticism for her role in the department’s staffing decisions. John Catanzara, president of the local Fraternal Order of Police, retired last month but will still serve as head of the union.

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