The departure of SPD lawyer Bill Workman opens opportunity for some brave soul
There's apparently another job opportunity at the City of Springfield: legal advisor to the Springfield Police Department. Bill Workman, who had held that position since late 2000, was terminated May 7. Corporation Counsel Jenifer Johnson confirmed the move, but said she can't comment on personnel matters. Bradley Wilson, who is defending Workman in a civil lawsuit, says Workman was given no explanation for his termination, other than, "The mayor has exercised his prerogative to replace or remove him from his position."
Of course, that doesn't stop others from speculating. One obvious possibility is Workman's political affiliation. Prior to taking the job in Springfield, Workman was Logan County state's attorney, a job he campaigned for as a Republican. A search of campaign contributions shows he apparently doesn't financially support campaigns. But he read the handwriting on the wall when he witnessed other Republicans "retiring" or being terminated soon after Mayor Tim Davlin, a Democrat, took office on April 16.
"He's disappointed, obviously, because he enjoyed working for the city," Wilson says. "But he's a big boy, and he understands these things."
Another possibility is that his termination was related to his job performance. Workman was fired the morning after the City Council released the full report on the SPD's handling of two cases involving black officers. The investigation, conducted by the Peoria law firm Husch & Eppenberger, points to numerous problems in the SPD, but singles out only a few individuals for direct criticism: Chief John Harris, who has submitted his resignation; Sergeant Kevin Keen, SPD's former public information officer, who applied for and was given another position in early April; and finally, Workman.
The Husch & Eppenberger report focuses on the SPD's handling of two cases involving African American officers--Lieutenant Rickey Davis, who discovered he was being followed by his own department's internal affairs officers; and Renatta Frazier, who was the subject of scores of stories stating she may have failed to prevent the rape of another officer's daughter. The erroneous allegations were broadcast widely for almost a year until Illinois Times published a story documenting that the rape had happened before Frazier was ever dispatched.
Workman, who knew the truth "from the very beginning," never made any effort to help SPD find a way to correct the media stories, according to the Peoria report.
In a section titled "Springfield legal advisor failings," the Peoria team chastises Workman: "Whether Harris asked Workman for advice on this issue or not, Workman should have identified and analyzed whether the Department could have corrected the misinformation regarding Frazier in the press. It was Workman's responsibility to affirmatively look for landmines the SPD might face, and he simply did not do this."
In January, Frazier, Davis, and seven other black officers filed a race discrimination lawsuit against the city, naming Workman as one of six individual defendants. Tuesday night, the City Council passed a resolution setting aside up to $15,000 for Wilson to defend Workman in this case. Johnson earlier explained this step was necessary because of a potential conflict of interest between Workman and other defendants, who are all represented by assistant corporation counsel Frank Martinez. The case is pending in federal court.