The Fraternal Order of Police has asked the Illinois Labor Relations Board to stop the city from changing the Chicago Police Department’s use-of-force policy, a key reform as the department tries to improve its reputation and relationship with Chicago residents.
Details about the implementation of the policy were unveiled Thursday and officers have begun training in the new procedures. The FOP, which represents rank-and-file CPD officers, says implementing the new policy violates its contract because the changes were not negotiated with the union.
The policy is a key part of the Chicago Police Department’s efforts to reform itself after facing a blistering report on its conduct by the U.S. Justice Department that found widespread abuses.
Among other things, the 164-page report, released in January, found that Chicago police have shot at fleeing suspects who weren’t an immediate threat and also have failed to address racially discriminatory behavior within the department. Then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch, in releasing the report, said CPD had “severely deficient training procedures.”
The police union says in a news release that the changes to the use-of-force policy “would affect, at a minimum, disciplinary investigations, witness statements required to be made by officers, and just cause issues.”
The FOP says its petition, filed Friday, also argues that the city’s implementation of the new policy “is part of a pattern of making unilateral changes” without negotiating them; it demands the city cease and desist implementing any changes.
“We oppose this policy and the manner in which the city has attempted to impose it, and so we are immediately filing charges with the state Labor Board. The city is not negotiating in good faith, and, frankly, we are tired of it,” FOP President Kevin Graham said in a statement.
Lori Lightfoot, the president of the Chicago Police Board who also served on the Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Police Accountability Task Force, called the FOP’s decision “an extremely disappointing development.”
“The notion that they didn’t have a seat at the table is patently false,” Lightfoot said. “They seem to be mired in a vision that the current state of affairs of policing in Chicago simply doesn’t exist.”
Lightfoot noted that officers have been undergoing new training on the policy for weeks and that “progress is being made.”
“Things are moving forward,” she said. “It would be helpful for the FOP to be constructively engaged in finding solutions and not throwing up roadblocks.”
CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi had no comment on the labor complaint but noted that the use-of-force policy “went through two rounds of public comment which included significant officer feedback” and that the department met “numerous times” with the union.
Taking questions from reporters at the CPD training academy, Mayor Rahm Emanuel noted that when the policy was still being finalized, “most comments came from officers themselves.”
“We want to make the reforms with our officers and their insights, rather than to our officers,” Emanuel said. “If there are going to be these changes, [officers] want a seat at the table in designing them and contributing. The process enabled that.”
In 2018, officers will be required to take an eight-hour “scenario-based instruction that will give officers hands-on experience with the guidelines that they learned in the new policies,” First Deputy Supt. Kevin Navarro told reporters on Thursday. The cornerstone of the policy, Navarro said then, “is the sanctity of life.”
“It’s in the best interest of the department to make sure that that use-of-force-policy is put into effect,” Navarro said Friday.
In 2019, officers will attend 24 hours of training; 32 hours will be required in 2020. In 2021, 40 hours of training will be mandatory for officers.
Aside from use of force, courses will focus on officers’ and civilians’ mental health, civil and human rights, pursuits of criminal suspects and court testimony, among other topics, according to the department.
Police Supt. Eddie Johnson announced the changes to the policy in May.