Chicago police officers showed up in droves at city hall for a “Blue Wednesday” protest against the city’s mayor for “turning his back on police,” WLS-TV reported.
What’s the story?
The Fraternal Order of Police called on off-duty unionized officers to join the demonstration, which was met by counterprotesters chanting against police brutality.
Last week, the FOP sent members a letter that said Mayor Rahm Emanuel had turned his back on officers and placed them in danger. The message was in response to the police board’s decision last month to put Officer Robert Rialmo on no-pay status for the shooting deaths of Quintonio LeGrier and Bettie Jones in December 2015.
Chicago PD Superintendent Eddie Johnson previously determined that Rialmo’s actions were justified.
But the Civilian Office of Police Accountability requested that the police board review the shooting deaths which it called unjustified. COPA is Chicago’s civilian oversight board.
The FOP claims that COPA conducts “bogus, politically motivated investigations, arbitrarily punishing officers.”
“We also want to make sure that the City Council knows that we have a use of force policy. We live by it. We expect the City Council, we expect the mayor, we expect COPA, to all live by those things and to have fair and impartial investigations,” FOP President Kevin Graham told WLS on Wednesday.
An evidentiary hearing will be held before the police board to decide the fate of Rialmo’s job. It’s not clear when the hearing will take place.
What did the mayor say?
In a statement to the news outlet, Emanuel said, “When you have people on either side of the police reform issue criticizing, it’s a sign we’re hitting it down the middle of the fairway as we continue to build trust between officers and residents, ensure oversight and accountability, and give officers the tools and training they need to be proactive in the crime fight,” .
Some officers believe that Emanuel is dragging his feet on a new police contract with the FOP, accusing him of wanting to hold off until after next year’s elections.
Union president Kevin Graham said the lack of a deal hasn’t affected overall police performance but added the city could be doing more to reach a deal.
Johnson told WBBM-TV it’s not unusual for a deal to take some time.
“I’ve been a cop for over 30 years, and I can’t ever remember that contract getting settled quickly — ever,” Johnson said.
There have been only two negating sessions since the last deal expired 11 months ago.