Too Politically Sensitive Book Cover

Land of Lincoln Press, Inc.
Hardcover: 416 pages

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I have been asked to speak before several university classrooms. These are some of the most frequently asked questions by students.

Q: Were you afraid for the safety of your family or yourself when you decided to speak out against such a powerful and corrupt state?
A: There is always a subliminal concern in the back of my mind, especially with the state still constantly trying to discredit my family and I; but if we become too afraid to speak out, then evil will almost surely win.

Q: What were your feelings when you were told the murder of Dyke and Karen Rhoads was “too politically sensitive?”
A: I loved my job and I loved my department, I still do. I spent most of my adult life believing in what I did, wanting to help people and to make a difference. I spent almost my entire career believing that no one was above the law, no one above reproach and that we would always do the right thing. A lot of my faith in what I believed in all those years was destroyed by those three little words.

Q: Why do you think the murder of Dyke and Karen Rhoads was deemed “too politically sensitive” to reinvestigate by your command?
A: The upper command of the Illinois State Police never bothered to tell me why, I can only speculate. The leadership of the Illinois State Police changed drastically when George Ryan became governor. The state police exonerated him in their investigation of corruption while he was Secretary of State. Under his new administration as governor, many of those involved in that investigation became powerful leaders in the ISP. But George Ryan was still under federal scrutiny and a scandal like this would only bring more problems for him. I learned that with Ryan and the ISP leadership that maintaining a false image is more important than admitting misconduct or searching for the truth.

Q: Will there ever be any closure for the Dyke and Karen Rhoads or their families?
A: I hate to say it, but I doubt it unless the feds step in and do something. There is no physical evidence and there are no credible witnesses to prosecute anyone. It is a tainted investigation all the way around; a state appellate court, the Illinois Attorney General and a federal judge all concurred evidence favorable to the defense had been withheld in the original investigation and prosecution. With so many State Police command and personnel, including the current case agent assigned to the allegedly “renewed” investigation, facing multi-million dollar lawsuits from the two wrongfully convicted men, their only goal is to still focus on them as the suspects. Like one Captain remarked to the Rhoads family, “we want to make sure we put those two scumbags back in prison.”

Q: Who do you think killed Dyke and Karen and why?
A: Unfortunately I never got the chance to try and prove beyond a reasonable doubt who committed the murders of Dyke and Karen Rhoads. Or why they were murdered. Like many, I have my suspects and my theories as to who and why. There are several viable suspects, and there are many different theories behind why they were murdered that hot July night. I am convinced though, it was not over any “drug deal gone bad” between Dyke Rhoads and Steidl or Whitlock. I lean towards more of a conspiracy theory and the reasons for their murders had more to do with Karen and what she knew or saw.

Q: How did you feel suing your own department?
A: It was one of the most overwhelming decisions in my life. The decision to take on a powerful state, especially one that proved to be so deceitful and hypocritical, was to say the least, a little stressful. My wife and I suffered attacks on our credibility, threats to financially ruin us and still do to this day. At the time, it was my First Amendment protection, my freedom of speech which allowed me speak out on the matters of public concern I brought forth. It was the freedom of speech that enabled me to take on such a corrupt state and win. A jury and a judge saw the deceit and ruled accordingly in a two week trial, but my freedom of speech was yanked right out from under me by George W. Bush and his conservative Supreme Court in the Garcetti ruling a year later.

Q: What do you think about the Garcetti ruling by the United States Supreme Court?

The high court ruled that “When public employees make statements pursuant to their official duties, they are not speaking as citizens for First Amendment purposes, and the Constitution does not insulate their communications from employer discipline.”

Actually I was appalled at what the court did, but with George W. Bush and his self-serving elitist administration pushing the conservative court, taking away our freedom of speech and wanting to silence honest men and women from speaking out on government corruption was not that surprising from his administration. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed my case in light of Garcetti by ruling that, “Mr. Callahan spoke not as a citizen but as a public employee, and that speech is not entitled to protection by the First Amendment.” I never in my wildest imagination fathomed that when I went to work and put on my gun and badge and risked my life to protect the citizens of Illinois that I stopped being a citizen. Obviously the conservative justices didn’t consider themselves citizens either when they chose to shred our Constitution and limit the freedom of speech.

Q: How did you feel when your First Amendment victory was reversed by the United States 7th Circuit Court of Appeals?
A: My attorney and I filed a Writ of Certiorari to the Supreme Court and feel the facts in my case are much different than in Garcetti. In my case, you had the blatant lying and cover up of criminal activity by the state police command and internal investigations who refused to investigate the corruption I brought forth. I guess the big question for the court will be two-fold. Who will police the police if they refuse to police themselves and who will ever hold government accountable if they have the right to ignore their criminal conduct? In my case, I had no whistleblower laws to protect me, and my department ignored my allegations and deceitfully covered them up. Attorney General Madigan and then Governor Rod “the unreformer” Blagojevich publicly called for an investigation by the Inspector General but that was all just smoke and mirrors and there has never been any investigation. Basically you have the government protecting the government and it’s pretty sad if the courts want to protect a corrupt State like Illinois that wants nothing more than to silence its honest employees.

Q: What do you think the ramifications of the Garcetti decision are going to be for all Americans?
A: Let me give you a frightening hypothetical. I am a police officer and I’m on the job and doing my official duty. I see another police officer wrongfully shoot and kill a citizen. I report the crime to my superiors and internal investigations and they tell me to keep quiet, they don’t want the scandal, the tarnished image or the lawsuits. They ignore the crime, never investigate it and cover it up with some believable story for the public. Now if I speak out, I can be punished with absolutely no protection and even lose my job. But if I don’t speak out, I become part of the crime by concealing it and can be prosecuted. Government employees are placed in a position of becoming damned if they do and damned if they don’t. And in a State like Illinois, don’t even consider whistleblower laws, they are useless in a corrupt state, and nothing more than smoke and mirrors. The government conduct in the hypothetical I gave you—other than the crime as a murder— is just what the state police did in my case. But in my case, they were just willing to leave innocent men in prison and ignore my command’s impeding a criminal investigation.

Q: Would you change anything if you had it to do over?
A: I could have stayed quiet and just accepted my department’s retaliation and clear message to shut up. I would have retired at around $89,000 a year and life would have gone on. My life would certainly be much easier than it is today and my wife and I wouldn’t be getting the vicious attacks on our credibility from the state’s high priced private attorneys and their unscrupulous private detectives. Of course the private attorneys are authorized by the Attorney General and Governor to defend the ISP command who is accused. And they are being well paid by the taxpayers of this state to do so, a little over two million dollars and still counting. But my answer is no, I wouldn’t change anything. I have my integrity, and I lived by my oath to the end.