Abuse Of Power Complaint Lodged Against St. Xavier Police Chief

CHICAGO — A formal complaint against Saint Xavier University Police Chief Melvin Cornelius alleging abuse of power has been filed with a national agency that investigates police misconduct across the country.

In a statement accompanying the complaint with the Brady List, the complainant alleges that Cornelius has used his authority as chief “to punish and make false accusations” against numerous university police employees. The statement said that Cornelius’ actions have led to the resignations of 14 department members, 13 of whom are Caucasian, over a month’s time.

“Complaints against him (were made) to the school and they were ignored,” the statement says. “Again, the chief used his title and position” to influence the school’s human resources department.”

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A source told Patch on Tuesday that the complaint was filed with The Brady List two months ago, but that it was just made public recently.

Patch previously reported on the mass exodus of officers, some of whom referred to Cornelius as a bully. At the time of the reporting in October, 11 officers have left the department over complaints about the way they were treated by the police chief.

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The former officers cited a hostile work environment that was created by Cornelius. Officers, who spoke to Patch on the condition of anonymity, said that they had complained to school officials but that their concerns were ignored.

In a statement issued to Patch last fall, a university spokeswoman said that the school prides itself on being ranked among the 10 safest college campuses in the country. The school said that has been achieved thanks to the hard work of its public safety department and touted Cornelius as an experienced leader with a long track record of effectively working with his officers.

“(Cornelius) has worked diligently to apply and enhance best practices in public safety to improve campus protection,” the school said in the statement.

School officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday about the filing of the formal complaint.

In response to the mass resignations last fall, SXU officials sent an email to the university community, assuring that the campus is safe.

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The university communication indicated that some SXU staff members had recently received unsolicited emails suggesting that the campus is no longer safe. The email says that the messages were sent by a former member of the university’s public safety staff who was among those who resigned.

The email said that the university received resignations “as a normal course of career progression” from police officers. Many of the officers who stepped down from their positions were part-time officers working anywhere from 8 to 24 hours a week who also hold jobs with other municipal police departments, Patch reported.

Former officers told Patch last fall that they were accused by Cornelius of stealing time from the university and not carrying out their normal police duties.

Cornelius, who directed all inquiries to comment on the matter to the university, told Patch last fall that all claims made against him by the former officers are false.

Officers told Patch the chief retaliated against them for taking a police report involving Cornelius and a former SXU student who was working as a dispatcher.

The student claims that she was making copies in the hallway of the department when Cornelius allegedly walked up to her and used his index finger to poke her in the stomach near her belly button. The student dispatcher claims in the police report that the chief said something to her as he poked her, but that she did not hear what he said.

The reports, obtained by Patch, said that the student told police she did not want to press simple assault charges against the chief but was having difficulty focusing on classes and sleeping, and remained upset about the alleged incident after it took place in the spring of 2022.

Cornelius was also accused of sexual harassment and other complaints while he was the police chief at Joliet Junior College.

In its request for comment from the university, Patch asked about Cornelius’ current status with the school’s police department.

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