Foul-mouthed cop dumped from Metropolitan Water Reclamation District job

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The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District’s civil service board decided Wednesday to fire Officer Denis Lawlor. | Robert Herguth / Sun-Times

Denis Lawlor, a Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago cop whose crude, racially charged rant was somehow picked up by his police radio and broadcast over a recorded frequency, was fired Wednesday — a year and a half after the agency first moved to get rid of him.

“Lawlor’s gross misconduct of sleeping and drinking on the job and encouraging another to do the same and direct racial and gender slurs at fellow employees warrant discharge,” the agency’s three-member civil service board said in a written decision it released at a meeting Wednesday.

These were among Lawlor’s comments, according to an audio recording of the Jan. 18, 2015, rant that occurred while he was working a midnight shift for the flood- and sewage-control agency:

• “Everyone here is sleeping,” Lawlor told a newly hired cop he was showing around the Stickney wastewater-treatment plant. “The engineers, everyone that’s here on midnights, they’re all f—— sleeping somewhere, too.”

• Referring to clout hiring, Lawlor said, “Just assume everyone here is here on a phone call . . . everybody.”


• Lawlor used the “n” word, calling a black colleague a “stupid Alabama field n—–” and joking that “white guys” should call Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which was the following day, “James Earl Ray Day,” in reference to the civil rights leader’s assassin.

• Lawlor used the “c” word to refer to female colleagues.

• He also talked about what he called “the apartment” — a secret back room where he said district employees would hide, watch TV, sleep, play cards and drink beer that was kept in a refrigerator there. He’s heard telling the rookie he was welcome to grab a beer whenever, but “don’t f—— take the last one.”

    Earlier coverage: THE WATCHDOGS: Despite damning audio, cop fights to keep his job

After the recording came to light, the rookie was fired by the taxpayer-funded agency, and several other employees were disciplined.

Lawlor was suspended without pay and recommended for firing but fought the move. Between salary and overtime, he’d been paid more than $100,000 in 2014, records show.

The civil service board’s ruling Wednesday came after a number of hearings earlier in the year.

Lawlor wasn’t at the board’s meeting Wednesday. It’s unclear whether he will ask the board to reconsider or, as he’s also allowed to do, appeal to the Cook County circuit court.

David St. Pierre, the reclamation district’s executive director, said he suspects this will be the end of the case. St. Pierre said of Lawlor’s conduct, “That type of behavior is not tolerated here.”

Lawlor’s attorneys had argued that his comments weren’t cause for firing, calling them “street vernacular,” “a private conversation” and “a union discussion.”

CSB Case No. 15-03 Denis Lawlor by The Watchdogs on Scribd

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