The Illinois Fraternal Order of Police has suspended the president of the union representing Chicago Police officers — and prohibited Mike Shields from negotiating with the city — after accusing him of violating his oath of office and branding him a “dictator.”
The extraordinary step by State FOP President Ted Street was announced at a general membership meeting Tuesday night where a Monroe District beat car was called to “police the police” amid fears it could get ugly.
Street’s power play comes just two days after Shields leveled the explosive charge that the last two police contracts dictated by an independent arbitrator were “fixed” in the city’s favor and that the recent sergeants’ contract arbitration may also have been rigged.
That was the final straw, but not the only reason Street triggered a disciplinary process that will culminate in an investigation by a five-member committee and a hearing before the State FOP’s 30-member board, where Shields will have the opportunity to present a defense.
There also was an embarrassing paperwork mistake that Mayor Rahm Emanuel has seized upon to deny rank-and-file police officers their automatic right to a retroactive pay raise in 2012. Shields has apologized to his members for the oversight.
“We’re all aware of his late filing for the demand to bargain and his late filing of an unfair labor practices complaint. We have in jeopardy a year’s wage increase. The mayor’s office has said that’s in jeopardy,” Street said Wednesday.
“There comes a point where enough’s enough. We serve the members and not ourselves. It’s a culmination of the judgment he’s exercised, his leadership style, how he has not acted in the best interest of the Chicago FOP membership. I’ve attended meetings. I’ve watched how he runs them, with no parliamentarian. He’s operating as a dictator.”
FOP Lodge 7 represents roughly 9,000 active Chicago Police officers and thousands more police retirees, and Shields has led the union since 2011.
During the Tuesday night meeting, Shields sent defiant text messages to the Chicago Sun-Times. He claimed the state FOP was doing the bidding of the former union leaders whom Shields has accused of being in cahoots with the city.
“They can’t remove me. They don’t have the authority. It’s an illegal act and frivolous,” he wrote in the Tuesday night text.
“The state president is Mark Donahue’s little lackey. Mark Donahue will try every play in the book. He should be apologizing to the members for screwing them over. I’ve done more fighting against the city than Mark Donahue has done in nine years. Unlike him, I don’t play ball with the city,” Shields wrote in another text message, referring to the immediate past FOP president.
What Shields did not mention is that his five handpicked field representatives walked off the stage to dramatize their demand that he resign. That forced Shields to deliver his president’s report while standing alone, a “pathetic” sight, according to one officer in attendance.
According to those in the meeting, Shields finished his report. Then each field representative came to the stage to give his report — and walked off again.
A state FOP representative handed Shields papers saying he was being brought up on charges to remove him from office.
At one point during the meeting, an on-duty sergeant and two officers were dispatched to the FOP hall at 1412 W. Washington to “ensure that order and safety was maintained,” said Adam Collins, a spokesman for the Chicago Police Department. “But at no point did CPD interfere with the business of the union.”
Contacted Wednesday, Shields refused to say whether he plans to fight the charges or even whether he plans to run for re-election in March.
He would only say: “I’ve blown the whistle against Mark Donahue, Bill Dougherty, Rich Aguilar and Greg Bella. This action by the State FOP is all being orchestrated by Mark Donahue and the others. They’re retaliating against me for revealing this to the inspector general.”
At Tuesday night’s meeting, nominating petitions were collected for those running for office, according to those who attended.
Sources said Dougherty has been considering running against Shields for president. Shields banished Dougherty from FOP headquarters, and he’s been assigned to a beat car in the Morgan Park District. Dougherty, the elected first vice president, took over Wednesday as the acting president, an FOP spokesman said.
Shields has been a thorn in the mayor’s side with his constant demands for more police hiring to ease a severe manpower shortage. An actuarial report distributed by Shields helped to torpedo a sergeants’ contract that the mayor hoped to use as a roadmap for solving the city’s nearly $20 billion pension crisis.
Contributing: Frank Main