New Contract for Chicago Police Brass Allows Anonymous Complaints: Lightfoot

(WTTW News)(WTTW News)

Those who believe they have witnessed misconduct by Chicago Police Department sergeants, lieutenants and captains can submit a complaint anonymously under the city’s new contract with their union, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said.

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The mayor hailed the decision by an arbitrator to allow complaints against 1,500 of the department’s highest-ranking officers to be investigated without a sworn affidavit a “historic” win in the push for police reforms given new life by the protests touched off by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.

The decision could set a precedent for the contract under negotiation with the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 7, which represents the bulk of the 13,500-officer force.

“Today’s historic win represents years of efforts to ensure our Chicago’s police union contracts represent the values of our officers and the residents they serve,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “We will continue fighting for these same reforms as well as other measures in our ongoing negotiations with the FOP.”

FOP President John Catanzara did not immediately respond to a request for comment from WTTW News.

“The reforms won in the police supervisors’ contracts will serve as a roadmap for measures being pursued in the contract for rank-and-file officers as part of ongoing negotiations with the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #7,” Lightfoot said.

An investigation of the Chicago Police Department by the Department of Justice, released in 2017, criticized the requirement for a sworn affidavit before complaints against officers could be investigated, saying it meant many allegations were never made for fear of retaliation. 

The new agreement protects the names of complainants from being disclosed to officers until immediately prior to their interview, which typically comes at the end of an investigation, according to the mayor’s office.

The arbitrator’s decision also requires the Policemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association of Illinois, Unit 156, to stop destroying disciplinary records. The Illinois Supreme Court ruled earlier this month those records must be maintained, regardless of what union contracts require.

In addition, the new agreement requires police supervisors to disclose whether they work a second job and how many hours they worked. It also allows the department officials to impose a 16-hour cap on working any job within a 24-hour period unless ordered by the department.

In an audit released in October 2017, Inspector General Joseph Ferguson called on city officials to monitor officers’ outside employment “to ensure that CPD officers are not overworked, and remain rested, alert, and ready to serve the public.”

The City Council agreed in November to give the police supervisors a 10.5% raise during the five-year term of the deal, which expires in June 2022. The police supervisors had been working without a contract since June 2016.

The deal also required the city to make $33 million in back payments to supervisors, while requiring them to pay more for health care insurance coverage and prescription drugs.

Contact Heather Cherone: @HeatherCherone | (773) 569-1863 | [email protected]

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