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Lightfoot, Riccio defend scheduling changes for Chicago police officers

First Deputy Police Supt. Anthony Ricco says scheduling changes after the first of the year are “minimal” and will only impact roughly 30 minutes.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot talks to reporters at City Hall after her weekly “Accountability Tuesday” meeting with police brass. To her right is First Deputy Police Superintendent Anthony Riccio.
Fran Spielman/Chicago Sun-Times

A controversial plan to change the starting times for Chicago police officers across the city will take effect in January over the objections of the Fraternal Order of Police, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and First Deputy Police Supt. Anthony Ricco said Tuesday.

“This isn’t the sign of the Apocalypse. Everything will be fine,” the mayor said after her weekly “Accountability Tuesday” meeting with police brass that went on without Supt. Eddie Johnson, who just returned from a vacation in London.

“This is something that’s really consistent [with] and maybe mandated by the consent decree.…We got a little ahead of ourselves….The union absolutely has to be read into it. And we’ll give people time to adjust their schedules accordingly. It’s gonna be part of a pilot program that is launched in January.”

Riccio said the scheduling change was announced last week, then temporarily pulled back because the FOP was not notified in advance.

But it will take effect after the first of the year.

“It’s really part of the reforms that we’re undergoing consistent with the consent decree. We want to make sure that there’s ample time for training at the beginning of the tour, for being briefed about crime conditions that are gonna be on the beats that they’re going to patrol. And then, at the end of the tour, just have time to debrief the oncoming officers and let them know what’s going on as well,” Riccio said.

Although the union is up in arms, Riccio characterized the time changes as “minimal.” It’s not enough to disrupt the personal lives of officers whose days off have already been canceled throughout the summer.

“I believe it’s 30 minutes that the shifts will change in time, so it’s not a big time change. It’s nothing dramatic,” Riccio said.

“I understand that that could cause some child care issues. Some issues at home. But the change in time is very minimal. And…not rolling it out between now and January gives everybody time to plan for….child care issues are or anything they have going on at home.”

FOP President Kevin Graham said he’s pleased that CPD “listened to reason and delayed their attempt to implement the schedule change.”

“This issue is still subject to negotiation as we move forward. Of course, it is our members who tell us what is and isn’t a big deal, not the bosses or the mayor,” Graham was quoted as saying in an emailed statement.

The schedule change appears to fall within the parameters of the police contract that expired more than two years ago. It states, “Starting times may be adjusted by the Employer: (1) plus or minus two (2) hours from the designated starting times”

But that didn’t stop Graham from unleashing his anger in a letter to the troops posted last week on the union’s blog.

“Late yesterday, the command staff issued a directive changing the start times for officers all over the city, a change made without consultation with the FOP that disrupts the lives and family schedules of officers throughout the city. Officers [who] have already seen their days off canceled throughout the entire summer,” Graham wrote.

“Despite the constant disregard for the well being of our officers, the city continues to push one harassing, unjustified policy after another in the name of accountability and transparency. … We are meeting with the city this morning about the scheduling change and exploring our legal options.”

Asked to respond to the union’s complaints, Riccio said, “If we erred anyplace, it was not notifying the union in advance. But this is going to go into effect around Jan. 1 or sometime after the first of the year. It’s really part of the reforms that we’re undergoing consistent with the consent decree.”

Chief of Patrol Fred Waller outlined the “modified roll call procedures” in an Oct. 2 memo to deputy chiefs and district commanders.

It was enough to open a new front in Lightfoot’s running battle with the FOP.

Contributing: Sam Charles