As a former Chicago Police officer, Ald. Edward Burke (14th) has strong opinions about the tension between New York City police officers and the Big Apple’s rookie Mayor Bill de Blasio.
As the father of an adopted African-American teenager, Burke also can relate to de Blasio, who also has an African-American son.
On Thursday, Burke weighed in on the bitter controversy in New York that boiled over when police officers there accused de Blasio of having “blood on his hands” and turned their backs on the mayor during the funerals of two assassinated police officers.
“I can understand that. However, personally, I am disappointed that officers would use the funerals of two brave cops [who] were assassinated to make a political statement,” Burke said.
“There are plenty of forums and other ways that officers can express their disappointment in an elected official rather than using a solemn occasion like a police officer’s funeral. It’s inappropriate. It’s out of place. And I would hope they would reconsider what that says to the broader general public. It was not the place to do that. I would hope that would never happen in Chicago.”
Burke was asked what he tells his own son, Travis, about what to do if he is ever stopped by a police officer.
“The same thing that parents tell all of their kids. They should, number one, follow the law. Number two, always cooperate with the police. Always be polite. Always follow police orders. That’s just common sense,” Burke said.
“We fortunately are proud of him and have every confidence in the fact that he doesn’t get into a situation that would require a police confrontation.”
Burke’s advice to Travis is a dramatic contrast to what de Blasio was quoted as telling ABC News recently about his own fears for his son.
“It’s different for a white child. That’s just the reality in this country,” de Blasio told ABC.
“And with Dante, very early on with my son, we said, ‘Look, if a police officer stops you, do everything he tells you to do, don’t move suddenly, don’t reach for your cellphone,’ because we knew, sadly, there’s a greater chance it might be misinterpreted if it was a young man of color.”
A police union leader was quoted as calling de Blasio’s remarks tantamount to throwing police officers “under the bus.”
New York Police were already furious at de Blasio for campaigning against New York’s stop-and-frisk law and for using his son to explain why in a campaign commercial.
Chicago is not immune to tensions between mayors and police.
Thousands of police officers demanding a contract and chanting “Dump Daley” once marched around City Hall to embarrass former Mayor Richard M. Daley during a visit by the U.S. Olympic site-selection committee.
They’re not exactly enamored with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, either, even though the mayor managed to avoid arbitration for the first time in years by negotiating a new police contract.
They’re concerned about the sacrifices they could be asked to make next year — in the form of higher employee contributions and reduced benefits — when the city faces a deadline to make a state-mandated, $550 million payment to shore up police and fire pension funds.
“In an organization where there is management and labor, you will have certain tension. That is true in government, just as it is true in private industry,” Burke said.