A former top cop in Chicago has been selected to revamp the Illinois agency that is supposed to protect disabled adults who live at home, Gov. Pat Quinn's office announced Friday.
Michael McCotter, a 37-year veteran who headed the Chicago Police Department's detective and patrol divisions, was named "special investigator" of the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Human Services.
McCotter will be given the job of "reforming the investigative operations of the Inspector General's office," according to a written statement from the governor's office. McCotter could not be reached for comment.
His appointment to the newly created position resulted from an executive order issued by Quinn, which followed an investigative series first published in June by the Belleville News-Democrat. The ongoing series of stories exposed flaws in the ways the OIG handled death investigations and complaints of abuse to its hotline. Cases that involved neglect included bedridden, disabled men and women who were forced to lie in their own body wastes, often at the mercy of roaches and excessive temperatures, without medical attention or proper food.
The newspaper reported that since 2003, the deaths of at least 53 disabled adults who lived at home but were hospitalized on an emergency basis after coming to the attention of the OIG's hotline were closed without investigation. While a few police investigations followed, there were no felony convictions and only one misdemeanor conviction. That ended with a conditional discharge and community service.
In documents released to the newspaper, the OIG stated that these cases were not investigated because, "the dead are ineligible for services." Quinn's executive order directs that all death cases of disabled adults who lived at home since 2003 be reopened and properly investigated.
The newspaper also found that hundreds of calls to the OIG's hotline were rejected for investigation based on an on-the-spot decision made by a hotline operator that the person wasn't actually impaired, or that they could get help from another agency.
The reporting led to the resignation of Inspector General William M. Davis, a former Illinois State Police regional commander, who leaves office on Wednesday.
Quinn's office also announced that Daniel Dyslin, a senior counsel for DHS, was named acting inspector general until a permanent replacement can be found.
"I think this is a good step in the right direction," said state Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago. Harris heads the House Human Services Committee, which is scheduled to hold a hearing on the OIG on Tuesday in Chicago.
"The gentleman who has had experience in the Chicago area, we know is a good man. I've heard good things about the acting inspector general. I hope they choose a very competent, aggressive person to take that job permanently," Harris said.
"Michael McCotter will bring his strong law enforcement experience and dedication to reform to this mission," Quinn said in a written statement.
"His appointment underscores my commitment to ensuring that all people are treated with dignity and respect, and that any abuse and neglect suffered by citizens with disabilities is rooted out quickly and punished."