This week delivered another series of bad headlines in Chicago for Mayor Lori Lightfoot and her Police Superintendent David Brown. The Chicago chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police issued a vote of no confidence for both of them, as well as First Deputy Superintendent Eric Carter. Unlike other recent disputes between law enforcement and City Hall, however, this had nothing to do with supposed police “reforms” that have been proposed or the cutting of budgets. As it turns out, the Chicago PD has been working without a contract since 2017. Efforts at negotiations with the Lightfoot administration have basically gone nowhere. On top of that, during the recent crime surge, officers have been working mandatory overtime on a regular basis and having their days off canceled. It’s apparently these working conditions and the inability of City Hall to resolve these issues that led to the vote of no confidence. For her part, the Mayor shrugged it off. (CBS Chicago)
They would normally be some of the worst words a leader could hear from his or her employees: “I have no confidence.” That is exactly what members of the Chicago Police Union told Police Supt. David Brown.
But it is not rattling city hall. In fact, the mayor called the vote a badge of honor.
The union said officers are upset about canceled days off and forced 12-hour shifts. The union said it is hurting morale. Mayor Lori Lightfoot fired back, while Brown chose not to engage Thursday.
Yes, the Mayor of the Windy City actually said that a vote of no confidence from the FOP was a “badge of honor.” Instead of fighting with the police, shouldn’t she be fighting alongside them to get the epidemic of carjackings and other violent crime under control?
Sadly, that was nearly the only comment about this development coming out of either the Mayor’s office or the leadership at the Chicago PD. The Superintendent declined to comment when CBS News asked him about the vote. The Mayor switched the topic to the lack of a contract and blamed the FOP for not negotiating in good faith. Of course, the FOP has said the same about her.
At this point, the relationship between City Hall and the police in Chicago is basically dysfunctional. Lori Lightfoot has frequently seemed more inclined to blame the police for the city’s troubles than to find ways to help them get things under control. Her ideas of “reforms” in policing include, in some cases, restricting the tools available to deal with violent suspects who resist arrest. To say the least, morale among the cops in Chicago is in the tank.
The Chicago PD saw 520 cops retire in 2020. That’s a 15% increase over the previous year and the pace is accelerating in 2021. At a time when most crime rates are rising and people are being carjacked faster than dealerships can import replacement vehicles, the city needs more cops, not less. Even if the city’s budget is strained (as all cities seem to be these days), they need to figure out a way to improve pay and benefits for the police if they hope to attract new, qualified recruits. It’s either that or just let the gangs start running things officially. After all… how much worse could they do?