The Chicago Tribune describes the difficulties facing Mayor Lightfoot and other city mayors in reforming policing through contract bargaining.
While Mayor Lightfoot is not alone, we have a “lodge” of the Fraternal Order of Police that is headed by a racist and hostile leader, an open Trump supporter, who has made it clear he has no interest in bargaining reform.
Bargaining reform would mean removing the language in the current Collective Bargaining Agreement that shields police from criminal abuse charges.
Among them is a rule that gives cops who shoot people 24 hours before speaking to disciplinary investigators. Police argue it’s only fair to allow cops time to process a traumatic event.
Reform advocates counter that delaying interviews gives cops time to match up their accounts. They pointed to the McDonald shooting as evidence that police will give similar details that clash with video footage.
Following a DOJ investigation following the murder of Laquan McDonald, the city agreed in a consent decree to meet a long list of policing reforms.
The Chicago Police Department has missed more than two-thirds of its consent decree deadlines, according to a new report by the independent monitor tasked with overseeing the CPD’s mandated reforms.
The CPD met just 22 of 74 deadlines between September 2019 and Feb. 29, 2020, according to Independent Monitor Maggie Hickey.
That is not acceptable.
But as the Tribune points out, the FOP contract undermines many of the agreements in the Consent Decree.
The crisis gave rise to a 2016 city task force report and the 2017 U.S. Department of Justice report that criticized the union contracts. Last year, a federal judge enacted a consent decree, a broad court order requiring changes to training, supervision and discipline. The decree, however, states that it doesn’t override existing union contracts but calls on the city to make its “best efforts” to win changes.
Chicago has several officer unions, but the FOP has been front and center in the reform debate. The union represents a wide majority of the city’s 13,000 officers, including the patrol cops who have frequently been involved in controversial shootings and other uses of force. The pushback against the contractual changes is just one battlefront for a union that generally opposes reform and repeatedly has defended members credibly accused of serious misconduct.
The negotiations between the Mayor and the FOP has stalled.
A rule of thumb of bargaining a contract is that once something is in an agreement, it is near impossible to remove it. FOP President Catanzara has made it clear he has no interest in bargaining reform.
That leaves it to the Illinois General Assembly and Governor Pritzker. They can enact legislation that removes the language in the CBA that shields police misconduct as an issue of bargaining. They can remove it by statute.
Why does the Mayor have to bargain reform with Catanzara and the FOP?
Why is the General Assembly silent on this?