Arbitrator sides with Lightfoot on cop reform. The FOP is next.

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Two-dozen Black former cops and community allies protest outside the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 hall on Chicago’s West Side Friday. The union’s white president has said officers who kneel in solidarity with those protesting police violence will face sanctions from the union that is supposed to represent them. Chip Mitchell / WBEZ

The City and three cop “unions” have been negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement for a long time. Finally it went to binding arbitration.

This week the arbitrator sided with the City on major issues impacting police reform.

The three bargaining units represent Chicago’s sergeants, lieutenants and captains, members of the the Policemen’s Benevolent and Protection Association (PBPA).

The arbitrator sided with Mayor Lightfoot on changes to due process language that I believe protected police misconduct from criminal prosecution. The police “unions” have resisted the language changes.

I have written about the need for legislative action to make these changes. Remove them as issues of bargaining.

That still needs to happen.

Although the arbitration will now lead to removing the language that shields cops in the PBPA from criminal prosecution, the legislature must still proceed in removing these phony due process protections from all state police contracts, including the one with the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police.

The FOP was was not subject to this arbitration.

However, the reforms won through arbitration will allow anonymous complaints to be investigated, will end the requirement of destroying disciplinary records (which the Illinois Supreme Court ruled on last week), prevents the names of complainants from being disclosed to officers until they are interviewed and some additional reforms.

This is a partial step towards meeting the reforms required in the Consent Decree.

The U.S. Department of Justice reports that led to the Consent Decree found that  provisions in cop contracts had not only discouraged the reporting of officer misconduct but also reaffirmed fears of retaliation for reporting complaints against police officers.

Last week the Illinois Supreme Court rejected the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police’s argument that its collective bargaining agreement overrules the state’s Local Records Act.

The arbitrator’s decision reaffirmed the Court decision.

In the new contract cops are required to provide information about employment during their off-duty time, including where they are working and the number of hours they work.

Unlike every other city employee, police officers had not previously  been required to disclose this information.

The City Council must still approve the contract.

Not covered by the arbitrator’s ruling is the Fraternal Order of Police.

John Catanzara, President of the FOP, has demanded that Mayor Lightfoot make unacceptable concessions, including residency requirements and the right to strike, in exchange for these same changes to due process language.

Catanzara’s bullying now are less of a problem for the Mayor if it ever was.

As I understand it, the FOP contract is also pending arbitration. If it proceeds to binding arbitration it is expected that  the arbitrator will follow the lead of the BPBA settlement.

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