The police have had enough: Chicago FOP issues vote of ‘no-confidence’ in Mayor Lori Lightfoot

The police have had enough: Chicago FOP issues vote of
‘no-confidence’ in Mayor Lori Lightfoot 1

CHICAGO, IL – On Wednesday, May 19th, Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) issued a vote of “no-confidence” in Mayor Lori Lightfoot, citing poor work conditions and the cancellation of a march for fallen officers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Fox News, the vote by the police union, as well as the police Superintendent David Brown and First Deputy Eric Carter, was unanimous among as many as 200 active and retired rank-and-file officers. 

Reasons cited for the move reportedly included officer burnout and the department’s decision to cancel off days for cops on several occasions as well as a move from 8.5 hour shifts to 12-hour work periods in preparation for possible civil unrest in the city.

The symbolic action also followed the second consecutive year that the Chicago Police Department (CPD) canceled its annual St. Jude Memorial March for the city’s fallen officers while citing the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In a video statement, FOP President John Catanzara said:

“The basis for this non-confidence vote is pretty simple. It’s two-fold. It’s a lack of respect for the Gold Star families and the cancellation of the St. Jude parade.”

Catanzara said the union, which represents nearly 8,000 of the city’s 12,405 sworn officers, gave the department “leeway” with last year’s cancellation, but accused CPD of using the coronavirus as an “excuse” to cancel the affair that was set for May 3rd. Catanzara said:

“It was a slap in the face to every department member, especially the Gold Star families who have paid the ultimate sacrifice and deserve that respect annually. Period. No excuses.”

Reportedly, Lightfoot, for her part, blamed the union for dragging out talks on a new deal for thousands of rank-and-file officers who have worked without a police contract for more than three years, saying they’re losing “literally tens of thousands of dollars” in back pay annually.

Referring to Catanzara, Lightfoot said in a statement:

“So, frankly getting a vote of no-confidence from that guy is a badge of honor.”

Lightfoot, who recently took heat for giving interviews only to journalists of color to mark her two years in office, also accused Catanzara of dragging out the process over looming police reform since some measures would be incorporated into any new contract.

In an unrelated news conference on Tuesday, May 18th, Lightfoot said:

“We are on the cusp of four years since the FOP contract expired. They’re refusing to come to the table and bargain.”

While a no-confidence vote by FOP officials or rank-and-file officers is not unprecedented, it is unclear if a sitting mayor had ever been previously included in the move.

On Thursday, May 20th, Brown said in a statement:

“I just want to make sure that all of you understand our officers are dedicated and committed to this department and dedicated to protecting the people of Chicago, which sometimes means adjusting their hours.”

During the same press conference, Lightfoot said criticized the union by saying:

“Four years on and their members are not getting any kind of wage increase. They haven’t gotten a wage increase in four years and why? Because the current administration of the FOP has decided that the best strategy is to do nothing. FOP does not want to face the situation they are in.”

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Chicago mayor wants cops to ask permission from a supervisor before chasing a suspect on foot

April 21st, 2021

CHICAGO, IL– Mayor Lori Lightfoot is considering a momentous change to a Chicago police procedure, stating she wants a revised policy in place before summer.

According to reports, the change in policy will require an officer to get a supervisor’s permission before beginning a foot chase. The issue gained new urgency after an officer reportedly chased and fatally shot 13-year-old Adam Toledo. Lightfoot said:

“No one should die as a result of a foot chase.”

Since the fatal shooting, rewriting police policy on all foot chases has no become a hot topic at City Hall, with Lightfoot promising to announce details of a new policy “soon.”

Alderman Brian Hopkins said that an official in the mayor’s office told him officers could soon be required prior to a foot chase to do what is now required before a vehicle chase, which is getting permission from a supervisor. Hopkins added:

“Of course that raises obvious problems. In the time it would take to do that, the person you’re supposed to be chasing is actually long gone. The point would be moot then.”

Hopkins noted an unintended consequence of the new vehicle pursuit policy, stating:

“We’re seeing more vehicles flee from police officers because word has gotten out that they’re probably not going to get permission to chase you.”

On Monday, April 19th, Lightfoot commented on the “dilemma.” She said:

“I don’t want people out there who are dangerous to think, ‘well, if I just run, then I’m safe. I can continue to wreak havoc.’ We can’t live in that world either.”

Hopkins stated that is is past time to rewrite Chicago’s current “vague rules.” He added:

“I’m sure the officers themselves would agree with me. The more guidance we can give them, the more comfortable they’ll feel when they have to make these high-stakes decisions in the blink of an eye.”

ABC7 News reported that Sheila Bedi, a Clinical La Professor at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law said that community groups have been pushing for a formal foot pursuit policy since 2018, but that the city has balked. 

Currently, Chicago police only have a foot pursuit training bulletin. In it, officers are told:

“When making the decision to pursue or continue to pursue, the safety of the public, Department members, and the fleeing subject should be the foremost considerations.”

Nursrat Choudhury, Legal Director for ACLU Illinois added:

“It needs to make clear that valuing the sanctity of human life is a key consideration when officers are deciding whether to make a foot pursuit in the heat of the moment and similarly, if officers decide not to engage in a foot pursuit, it needs to be clear that they will not be disciplined.”

In the most recent report from the independent monitor overseeing Chicago police reforms, the data shows that from March through December 2020, there were 1,300 foot pursuits.

Nearly a third of them, 382, resulted in the use of force and there were 30 cases that resulted in the use of deadly force.

However, in the sudden rush to do something drastic after the Toledo case, there are concerns about getting too restrictive with a pursuit policy. State Rep. La Shawn Ford (D) said in a statement:

“We definitely need to have some form of pursuit, otherwise we will just let the bad actors get away.”

Alderman Ray Lopez, 15th Ward, added:

“If someone runs that is shooting, you give chase to apprehend. You don’t give them a pass. You don’t say it’s okay, we’ll just catch you on the next one.”

Lopez said that what happened to Toledo is tragic, but he is concerned about knee-jerk policy reactions. He said:

“The true issue here is that this officer didn’t go into the alley at 2:30 to chase someone just to shoot them. They were responding to a gang incident because a 21-year-old man was trying to recruit a 13-year-old boy to be part of a gang.”

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