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Aviation police officers criticize chief; ask Emanuel for help

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is looking into a union’s criticism that Chicago Police officers treat aviation police officers like rent-a-cops — and their boss doesn’t have their backs.

In a letter dated Sept. 11, the union representing aviation cops said Richard Edgeworth, chief of safety and security, is responsible for poor morale. He doesn’t support them when “differences of opinion occur between these members and other departments,” according to the letter from Service Employees International Union Local 73.

The letter asked Emanuel and his aviation commissioner, Ginger Evans, to conduct an “assessment of Edgeworth’s leadership.” Aviation police have taken a vote of no confidence in Edgeworth, according to the union.

Edgeworth is a former top Chicago Fire Department official. In 2010, he replaced James Maurer, a former top Chicago Police Department official, as the city’s aviation security and safety chief.

On Wednesday, the union sent another letter to police Supt. Garry McCarthy complaining about an incident Sept. 9 between aviation cops and Chicago Police officers.

Chicago Police officers were responding to a battery complaint at O’Hare when one of them noticed an aviation police officer was wearing an empty holster on his belt. Aviation officers are not allowed to carry firearms at the airports, but Chicago Police officers are.

A Chicago Police lieutenant ordered his officers to stop and question the aviation officer and check whether he was carrying a gun or had one in his vehicle, according to the union. No weapon was found.

The aviation officer forgot to take off the holster after completing his shift on another job, officials said.

Anthony Guglielmi, a spokesman for the Chicago Police Department, said the “incident was quickly resolved.” But the union’s letter said the Chicago Police officers’ actions were “insulting, demeaning and unnecessary.”

Adam Collins, a spokesman for Emanuel, said the administration would look into the union’s complaints. Edgeworth and a union representative could not be reached for comment.