The man who could be the next president of the Fraternal Order of Police on Wednesday threw his support behind Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to review and retreat from police reform agreements nationwide.
Chicago Police Officer Kevin Graham said the U.S. Justice Department investigation, triggered by the police shooting of Laquan McDonald, was “politically-motivated” and “part of a larger movement to put the handcuffs on the police in the Obama administration.”
“AG Sessions recognizes that the police are generally doing a good job and must be allowed to continue to do so,” Graham was quoted as saying in a press release issued by his “Blue Voice” slate of union candidates.
“We think this decision is a step in the right direction to restoring law and order and diminishing violent crime in the city. . . . Our citizens need to be protected. Too many are at risk for the senseless violence taking place. I think AG Sessions realizes that.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Supt. Eddie Johnson have promised to implement the sweeping reforms outlined in the DOJ’s scathing indictment of the Chicago Police Department, even though it is now clear that Sessions is not interested in pursuing a consent decree mandating those changes.
Graham strongly disagreed.
“Chicago Police are being hammered with new disciplinary measures constantly. Members are not receiving due process rights. And the media is not telling the truth about many cases in which the police are accused,” Graham was quoted as saying.
“Issues about availability of equipment should be worked [out] between the Lodge and the city. It doesn’t require a federal investigation and a consent decree.”
Graham also blasted incumbent President Dean Angelo for cooperating with a DOJ investigation he should have opposed and for encouraging his members to speak with Justice Department investigators “without legal representation.”
“How does it look when we cooperate with this investigation and then, Attorney General Sessions comes in and criticizes it? If . . . Sessions sees these investigations [as preventing] the police from doing their job, why didn’t our own FOP president,” Graham was quoted as saying.
Angelo countered that hundreds of officers volunteered to talk to the DOJ to give the report balance. They aired their gripes about broken down equipment, inadequate training, outdated technology and about a merit promotions process riddled with politics, he said.
“If not, you would only have had politicians, reverends, community activists, arrestees and ex-offenders. They would have been the only voice of that document,” Angelo said.
“You could see that document was truly balanced out by our members’ voice that made it into the narrative about their experiences and not just the experiences of 35th and Michigan. No one was pushed. It was strictly voluntary. To say that was in error — I would suggest that Mr. Graham speak with the hundreds of officers who decided to voluntarily come forward and speak about their frustration, about their broken equipment, about their inability get good assignments, like sitting on the mayor’s house and to be recognized for merit selection.”
Angelo added, “I take issue with someone in the 9th inning playing politics on this report.”
Leadership of the Fraternal Order of Police is up for grabs in the April 12 runoff.
Graham’s broadside — one day after he refused to comment on grounds the FOP has only one president at a time — makes it clear that, if he wins, the union will be far more aggressive and outspoken than it has been under Angelo’s leadership.