WHAT MANY DID NOT KNOW ABOUT THE NEW CHICAGO POLICE UNION CONTRACT
January 02, 2016
(CHICAGO, ILL.) -- Less than a month after a Chicago police officer shot and killed 17-year-old Laquan McDonald with barrage of 16 bullets -- a killing that many in Chicago said was an execution after they saw the video of the shooting the city had tried to keep from being released -- the city council in the windy city wrapped up a new contract with the police union.
The Wall Street journal noted that the agreement, reached last year, was lauded by city aldermen as a sign of cooperation between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and union leaders but, "What wasn’t mentioned was the added protections it provides officers who are under investigation for misconduct, including new rules for interrogations and video evidence."
The new Journal report says around the country such protections, "have been building in union contracts and state law for decades," but now the public is taking a second look at these protections and they are starting to be challenged in the wake of often disturbing police killings of civilians.
The public is starting to demand "greater accountability," according to the report. The latest disturbing shooting happened last week, a double killing in which a Chicago police officer accidentally shot and killed an innocent bystander, a 55-year old woman in a shooting incident in which a young college student was also fatally shot.
The Journal report says Samuel Walker, professor emeritus of criminal justice at the University of Nebraska Omaha, believes the new, enhanced police protections under union contracts have gone too far, "citing provisions such as giving officers accused of misconduct up to 10 days before they can be questioned."
Under the Chicago police contract, officers can even refuse a polygraph test and disciplinary records of officers are required to be destroyed after five years.
Other items from the report:
~ Language added in the most recent Chicago Police union contract says that investigators can show an officer video evidence "before taking his or her statement, a practice critics say taints witness accounts and can result in statements being tailored to video evidence. Officers also may “clarify and amend” statements made before they view video evidence."
~ Craig Futterman, a law professor at the University of Chicago who has long examined police misconduct in Chicago, said allowing officers to see video evidence runs counter to basic investigatory practices and it should, "Raise eyebrows because it’s a double standard."
~ Data from an Independent Police Review Authority that was set up to investigate police shootings and misconduct allegations, show officers have been cleared in all but two of the 409 shootings it examined.
~ ~ Chicago paid out nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in police misconduct judgments and settlements over the last five years alone. Not noted in the Journal report is that in May of 2015, city residents also found out their tax dollars had been funding for years a "house of police horrors" in the Chicago Police Dept. where citizens were tortured by police officers for decades.The routine torture was done by a group of officers known as the “Midnight Crew,” and the warning signs of police abuse had been there for years. One alleged victim of police torture, Anthony Holmes spent 30 years of his life prison for a 1973 murder he says he falsely confessed to after being tortured.
~ Lorenzo Davis, a former police officer who went on to investigate cases for the Review Authority, alleges in a lawsuit that he was fired from the police department after refusing to rule that certain police shootings were justified. Davis is quoted in the Journal report as saying, “It became really pro-police and I was accused of being biased against police because I was not as pro- police."
More on the story here