clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Mihalopoulos: White House trumps Chicagoans in cop union battle

With high turnout and low morale, rank-and-file Chicago Police officers decided Wednesday to change union presidents heading into contentious contract negotiations.
With 9,730 votes cast, Police Officer Kevin Graham (left) captured 56.2 percent of the vote to incumbent FOP President Dean Angelo's 43.7 percent. | File photos

Follow @dmihalopoulosThe huge divide between Chicago cops and many of the people they serve and protect becomes even more obvious if you follow the runoff campaign for police union president.

The Chicago Police Department’s ranks don’t have to be on the same wavelength as general public opinion in the city.

But the rhetoric from the two candidates to lead the local Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 suggests they’re trying to appeal to cops who are far more in line politically with places like Alabama than Chicago.

In a city Donald Trump lost badly in last year’s presidential election, incumbent FOP President Dean Angelo and runoff challenger Kevin Graham both clearly feel the best way to win votes is to sidle up to the Trump administration as much as possible.

OPINION

Follow @dmihalopoulosMany cops didn’t think much of a U.S. Department of Justice report released three months ago, days before President Barack Obama left office. The feds found police shot at fleeing suspects who didn’t pose an immediate threat and failed to address racially discriminatory behavior within the department.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel says the city would agree to a consent decree, which could provide federal oversight of the CPD.

Some rank-and-file officers, though, have made clear they don’t see the need to change their ways.

“Hopefully the DOJ run by adults under Trump will re-examine the report,” one commenter said on the Second City Cop blog in January.

Those supplications apparently will be answered swiftly. Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, already is moving toward abandoning plans for consent decrees in Chicago and other cities.

Fresh from an Oval Office visit with Trump, Sessions and Vice President Mike Pence, Chicago’s embattled FOP leader was featured in the New York Times on Tuesday, in a story headlined, “Police unions hail Trump’s easing of scrutiny.”

Dean Angelo and other Fraternal Order of Police representatives with President Donald Trump. Angelo is standing directly behind the president. | Provided photo
Dean Angelo and other Fraternal Order of Police representatives with President Donald Trump. Angelo is standing directly behind the president. | Provided photo

“Dean Angelo Sr., president of the Fraternal Order of Police chapter that represents Chicago officers, said their problem was not police conduct, but that ‘they have been demonized by political leaders and others for three years straight,’” according to the Times.

The newspaper quoted Angelo as saying he told Sessions, “Our girls and guys are worried about losing their jobs for doing their job. And [Sessions] goes, ‘That’s not a good thing.’”

Angelo’s comments in the national media were all but echoed in a news release from the “Blue Voice” slate of opposition candidates in the FOP local’s election. Graham, a longtime beat cop, leads the slate and would seem to have a good shot at winning, because the incumbent got only 34 percent of the vote on the first ballot.

Graham gained a new nickname — “The Squire of Lincolnshire” — after my colleagues recently reported he and his doctor wife own a big house in the Lake County suburb. Graham says he actually lives in his sister’s condo on the North Side and thus does not violate the requirement that all cops and other city workers live in Chicago.

Graham said the federal investigation of Chicago’s police force was “part of a larger movement to put the handcuffs on the police in the Obama administration.”

“Chicago Police are being hammered with new disciplinary measures constantly,” he said in the “Blue Voice” news release.

That could seem to be the case only because allegedly bad cops have been treated so gingerly, despite an endless stream of costly brutality case settlements. A Chicago Sun-Times investigation last month found 400 complaints filed during the administration of Mayor Richard M. Daley remained unresolved, with one case still languishing after 14 years.

Cops could say they are with Trump not to spite the people of this city, but because he is with them.

After the release of the Laquan McDonald video in 2015, police have come under heavy criticism. Not nearly all of them can deserve it.

But you would think seeing dash-cam video of the 17-year-old McDonald being shot 16 times would make them all realize they’d better get ready for reform finally.

Instead, the candidates to lead their union pander to the mass pity party in the department. And they cozy up to newly minted Washington politicians who tell them what they — but relatively few other, civilian Chicagoans — want to hear.

Tweets by @dmihalopoulos