The Crusader Newspaper Group

Leaders urge overhaul of police contract

By Chinta Strausberg, Chicago Crusader

Calling for the reform of the police contract, Father Michael L. Pfleger and community leaders Tuesday warned rebuilding the bridge between the community and law enforcement won’t happen until officers who kill unarmed Black men go to jail.

Flanked by supporters including the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-16th), Rev. Janette Wilson, activist Ja’Mal Green and members of Purpose Over Pain, Pfleger said, “It is my belief that part of the rebuilding of the bridge between law enforcement and citizens will demand that law enforcement officers across the nation and in Chicago who have wrongfully killed young Black men, be held accountable and go to jail.

Rev. Jackson said, “Those who engage in illegal activity must be held accountable.” Agreeing, Pfleger said all they are asking for is “transparency.” “These rules are made behind closed doors…. The police chief takes the hit because that is the public person. The rules that limit the police chief are not made public. There should be community hearings on this issue….”

“We’re hearing very little about police contracts…collective bargaining agreements. We usual hear about this…after its been done and is reported in the media and that has to stop. Too often these bargaining agreements create the atmosphere that keeps bad police and rogue police from being held accountable and from being disciplined, fired or prosecuted,” Pfleger said.

Too often, he said, many police who have violated police policy “get off on charges and are not held accountable” because of the contracts and bargaining agreements that protect them making it nearly impossible for states attorney’s to prosecute them.

Currently, Pfleger said, the bargaining agreements are going on for sergeants, captains and lieutenants of CPD. “No one is talking about that….” He fears if this were approved, it would be used for the beat cops as well. “We must make sure this bargaining agreement being done now does not protect the bad cop.”

“Anybody who kills should go to jail whether you’re a brother on the street or whether you’re a cop in a uniform…. These officers going to jail will send a message to other officers that wrongdoing will be punished and it will send a message to the community that officers who do wrong will be held accountable,” Pfleger told reporters. He said this wrongdoing “will not be slid under the rug.”

But, Pfleger wants more than jail time for bad cops. He is demanding that the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the union and the City of Chicago must make some necessary changes.

Those changes are: The affidavit requirements should be removed. “People who complain about the police feel like the affidavit requirement treats them like criminals. That barrier has been used to prevent valid claims from moving forward, and it treats civilians to a different standard than department members who can initiate a complaint without signing an affidavit.”

Pfleger said the affidavit requirements should be removed so people can have valid claims investigated without the threat of criminal charges filed against them.

He also called for anonymous complaints to be allowed which would encourage reporting by those who fear retaliation including whistleblowers.

Father Pfleger said officers should not be informed of the complainant’s name before the interrogation. “There is little need for the officer to know the name of a complainant prior to interrogation if it is later disclosed during the resolution of the case,” he stated.

And, then there is the issue of the provision requiring the destruction of records. Pfleger said that provision should be eliminated. “The rule is in tension, if not outright conflict, with general principles of public record keeping. It deprives the public of important information that serves numerous operational and public policy objectives.”

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