The cop code of silence is contractual. Get rid of it.

Jon Burge protected by the Code of Silence. It’s contractual. Get rid of it.

I’ve received lots feedback on my blog post and on my Sun-Times op ed piece about the the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Collective Bargaining Agreement.

To review. I called for the state legislature and Governor Pritzker to remove the due process provisions that protect cops from criminal prosecution.

The Mayor should not have to bargain police reform with the police who are the targets of the reform people demand.

Those protections of racist criminal conduct is a misuse of our collective bargaining process. It doesn’t reflect union values. It reflects badly on legitimate unions and real due process language that protects workers from management misconduct.

Long-time union activist Clem Balanoff told me, “Some things don’t belong in union contracts.  One is the protection of rogue cops from prosecution for allegations of misconduct and abuse. State legislation is necessary to correct something that the police union has been unwilling to support.”

But that’s who I haven’t heard from.


The Sun-Times editorialized on the issue of FOP contract protections and gave examples.

The FOP contract includes provisions that virtually codify the so-called police code of silence. It is among the worst police contracts in the country.

Among its provisions are:

People making complaints must file a sworn affidavit, and their names are turned over to the officer they are accusing. The U.S. Department of Justice said this creates a “tremendous disincentive to come forward with legitimate claims.”

A provision permitting investigators to override the affidavit requirement is rarely used.Police are allowed to wait 24 hours before making statements after police-involved shootings, and they can amend those statements after seeing and listening to video or audio evidence.

Rewards for police officer whistleblowers are banned.

Police misconduct records are destroyed after five years.

Interrogators are limited in what they can ask officers during investigations of alleged misconduct.

The Sun-Times editorial calls on Mayors to be tougher in bargaining.

On this they miss an essential point. The bargaining table is not the proper arena for this reform. Bargaining is a process of give and take and compromise. As it must be.

But stopping racist practices and police abuse are not issues for bargaining.

Politico’s Natasha Korecki has a long article today that links Jon Burge, the CPD torturer. Korecki covered the story and writes about it in light of todays protest against police brutality and misconduct.

Yet despite all the negative consequences stemming from Burge’s misconduct, one fundamental problem inside police culture never changed: the willingness of officers to cover for each other even when they know it’s wrong.

The Code of Silence is essentially codified by the FOP contract.

The legislature must act.


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