NIU Police Chief Donald Grady put on administrative leave

NIU Police Chief Donald Grady put on administrative leave

By Kelly Bauer & Felix Sarver

NIU Police Chief Donald Grady was put on administrative leave effective immediately Saturday.

That same day, Lt. Kartik Ramakrishnan was notified of the university’s intent to discharge him. Paul Palian, director of public and media relations, said he did not know yet if Ramakrishnan would receive a severance package because “it is too early to tell.” Palian said it is unknown how long Grady will be on leave, but said Grady and Ramakrishnan will be paid during this time. Grady has an annual salary of $205,987.92; Ramakrishnan has an annual salary of $92,000.16.

Both actions are the result of recent court finding in the Andrew Rifkin case.

Rifkin, a former NIU police officer, was charged in November 2011 with Criminal Sexual Assault (Class 1 Felony). Rifkin’s attorney has argued that NIU police failed to provide the DeKalb County State’s Attorney’s Office with two key witness statements in Rifkin’s case. The missing witness statements, according to a motion filed by the defense, are from two people who said the actions between Rifkin and his alleged victim were consensual and no assault had taken place.

In her findings on the matter, Judge Robbin Stuckert said, “It is clear to me that there was a purposeful hiding of information by this department.”

On Nov. 5, Clay Campbell, DeKalb County state’s attorney, called for the NIU Police Department and Grady to be investigated. Later that day, NIU President John Peters issued a statement saying he had asked the State Police to “assist in the review and completion of ongoing university police investigations.”

Ramakrishnan said he mistakenly put the testimonies in Rifkin’s internal file.

Bill Nicklas, who was named acting director of Public Safety on Friday, announced that Grady was put on leave pending finalization of charges and disciplinary actions under the terms and conditions of his employment as well as university policies.

During the Student Association Senate meeting Sunday, Nicklas said his role as acting director didn’t mean he would get involved in criminal investigations. However, he would make sure the conduct of the police department is up to the best practices of the law enforcement profession and the best standards of the university.

His goals are to learn about the police department personnel and facilities. He said he is particularly interested in collaboration between the police department, the university and law enforcement agencies in the region.

Nicklas said he couldn’t speak about how the recent changes in the police department would affect the coffee fund investigation. He also said he couldn’t get into the details of how long Grady would be on administrative leave.

In a Saturday NIU Today release, Peters reacted to the actions against Grady.

“The findings of the court called into question the integrity of the criminal investigatory process, and we cannot under any circumstances tolerate such clear breaches of contracts, authority and responsibility,” Peters said in the NIU Today release. “Although it pains me greatly that the university had to take these actions today, we must always strive to do the right thing.”

Deputy Chief Darren Mitchell was named acting chief in Grady’s absence on Sunday.

Sgt. Alan Smith, a spokesman for the NIU Police Department, declined to comment on Grady being put on leave or Ramakrishnan being discharged.

However, in a letter put forth from the sergeants of the NIU Police Department on Thursday, the sergeants said, “This was an unfortunate but unintentional oversight. This oversight is entirely inconsistent with the high standards set by this agency. Lt. Ramakrishnan’s inaction was unintentional. He openly admitted that he made a mistake and accepts responsibility for failing to provide the statements in a timely manner.”