CHICAGO, IL — As the city and the state attorney general’s office continue to negotiate a consent decree over reforms in the Chicago Police Department, the union representing rank-and-file officers now says it wants a seat at the table.
The Fraternal Order of Police filed a motion to intervene Wednesday, arguing that the union should be party to the lawsuit because any agreed upon reforms could go against the union’s contract with the city. A hearing on the union’s motion is set for next Tuesday.
The FOP said that it “has not been included” in negotiations between the city and the attorney general’s office so far.
“There should be no doubt that the Lodge has a vital interest in the ‘draft provisions’ and ‘multiple additional topics’ that deal with fundamental matters involving the daily work of police officers,” Wednesday’s filing reads.
The union attests that a consent decree could not override the officers’ contract with the city.
“The Seventh Circuit [Court of Appeals] has held that contract provisions negotiated between employers and labor organizations may not be changed by a consent decree without the assent of the union,” the filing states.
Adam Collins, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s chief spokesman, said in a statement: “The Mayor has been clear, Chicago is on the road to reform and there can be no U-turns or off-ramps. We are committed to working with Attorney General Madigan on a consent decree that builds on our recent reforms and supports the effectiveness of our police force because we believe that these reforms will ultimately increase trust with residents and boost public safety. The consent decree process involves opportunities for community feedback, and we will welcome the input of community members, organizations and officers as part of that process.”
A spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office said: “As we have done with community groups and other stakeholders, we have sought the input of police officers and FOP leadership as part of the consent decree process. We will continue negotiating the consent decree, and we will respond to these motions in court.”
The consent decree would give a federal judge power to enforce police reforms.
In early 2017, in the waning days of the Obama Administration, the Department of Justice released a scathing report of the CPD’s practices. The report found a pattern of civil rights violations by Chicago officers.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, along with the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois and other legal-aid groups, filed lawsuits last year to force the city to seek federal oversight of the police — even without the Trump Justice Department’s help.
Last March, the ACLU, MacArthur Justice Center at Northwestern University and Mandel Legal Aid Clinic at the University of Chicago have now signed an agreement with Madigan’s office and the city that would give them input into the negotiations and the ability to object in court to provisions they don’t like.
The ACLU, MacArthur Justice Center and Mandel Legal Aid Clinic represent groups such as Communities United and Black Lives Matter Chicago. They’re pushing for a consent decree to be filed before Sept. 1.
Last month, members of the union protested at City Hall, arguing that Mayor Rahm Emanuel had “turned his back on the police.”
On several occasions, Emanuel has talked about the need for reform done “with — not to” Chicago Police officers.