The union representing rank-and-file Chicago police officers alleges the city and Chicago Police Department are endangering officers’ safety by disregarding COVID-19 protocols during training sessions.
In a court filing Thursday evening, the Fraternal Order of Police said officers who attend mandatory in-service training “have the potential of becoming superspreaders of the virus because the CPD is not taking the necessary precautions that have been issued by the city of Chicago Commissioner of Health to avoid a resurgence in community cases of the virus.”
The in-service training sessions — seminars in which departmental policies and procedures are reviewed — sometimes see as many as 40 officers sitting in close proximity to each other, with insufficient personal protective and sanitation equipment provided and face coverings not required, according to the FOP.
The FOP is asking U.S. District Judge Robert M. Dow, who oversees the CPD’s consent decree, to allow the union to intervene in the case because the in-service training protocols directly relate to several officer wellness provisions of the consent decree.
A representative for the city’s Law Department declined to comment Friday.
As of this week, the CPD had recorded 1,222 confirmed COVID-19 cases within the department, which employs more than 13,000 people. Of those who tested positive, more than 1,100 have returned to work.
Three officers — Sgt. Cliff Martin and officers Marco DiFranco and Ronald Newman — died of the virus in April.
The department has faced criticism in recent months for officers’ failure to wear face masks.
The apparent resistance to face coverings — a measure universally seen as key to slowing the virus’ spread — prompted the department to launch its own internal campaign this week, one aimed at encouraging officers to wear masks.
The union made a similar request to Dow over the summer. In June, the FOP argued the CPD’s decision to cancel officers’ days off and extend their shift lengths during the George Floyd-related protests and looting also flew in the face of the consent decree.
The city said while “officer health and wellness are of the utmost concern to City and the Chicago Police Department,” officers’ assignments and schedules were not related to the consent decree but the FOP’s collective bargaining agreement.