The Fraternal Order of Police is urging its members to turn down all requests for “non-mandatory overtime” over Labor Day weekend to protest “continued disrespect of Chicago Police officers and the killing of officers across our country.”
“This is a time when very few people have come out and supported police officers. Very few people have spoken out against the murderous attacks or non-stop, anti-police rhetoric. No one is taking into account the spouses and children of police officers and the heightened concern they have for what their loved ones do every day,” FOP President Dean Angelo said Monday.
“We’re asking our members to consider not participating in secondary employment to spend time with their families. They deserve it. They’ve earned it. They should take advantage of it. This is not a job action or to put pressure on anybody at the city. This has got nothing to do with what is or isn’t going to be discussed in 2017 [contract talks]. It’s for our members to spend time with their families.”
The decision to declare Sept. 2, 3, 4 and 5 “FOP Unity Days” was communicated to rank-and-file police officers in a union flier.
If a majority of rank-and-file officers follow the directive issued to rank-and-file officers in a union flier, it has the potential to underscore a severe manpower shortage masked by runaway overtime that topped $116 million last year. It could also leave the city woefully short of the officers needed to tamp down violence over the long holiday weekend.
“In order to show unity and to protest the continued disrespect of Chicago Police officers and the killing of law enforcement officers across our country, we are requesting FOP members to refrain from volunteering to work for any and all special secondary and other types of non-mandatory overtime employment for the entire Labor Day weekend,” the flier states.
The no-work directive includes the so-called “Violence Reduction Initiative” (VRI) that floods crime-ridden South and West Side neighborhoods with hundreds of additional officers as well as the so-called “VRI Supplemental.”
It also includes officers assigned for the holiday weekend to work at Navy Pier, McCormick Place, Chicago Park District, CHA Initiative, CTA Initiative and CTA Surge, the DUI task force and other details.
Over the July 4th weekend, roughly 5,000 Chicago Police officers were assigned to flood gang-infested neighborhoods as well as parks, lakefront beaches, Navy Pier, Michigan Avenue and surrounding CTA stations.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel credited the potent-but-costly mix of police overtime, summer jobs and a pre-emptive gang takedown for Chicago’s least-deadly July 4th weekend in eight years. There were five homicides and 62 shootings. During the first six months of this year, homicides and shootings are up 50 percent.
State law prohibits police officers and firefighters from going on strike or refusing mandatory assignments.
The FOP is staying within the letter of the law by asking its members to reject “non-mandatory” overtime.
City Hall sources noted that officers need to accept or refuse non-mandatory overtime within a few days of the assignment.
If an inordinate number of officers decline, Police Supt. Eddie Johnson could compel them to work by declaring the overtime mandatory, the sources said.
“Every single officer who serves our city on holiday weekends plays a valued and important role in keeping Chicago safe,” said Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi. “We do not expect any disruption in operations for Labor Day weekend.”
Emanuel campaigned for a first term on a promise to hire 1,000 additional police officers, then revised the pledge after taking office by adding 1,000 more “cops on the beat.” More than half of those cops came from disbanded special units. The other half were primarily officers working desk jobs reassigned to street duty.
The mayor also balanced his first budget by eliminating more than 1,400 police vacancies, declaring an end to what he called the annual “shell game” of budgeting for police jobs the city had no intention of filling.
When shootings and murders spiked and Chicago started making headlines as the nation’s murder capital, Emanuel used runaway overtime to tamp down the violence.