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Chicago's Fraternal Order of Police union — which is the largest union representing Chicago Police Department officers — has been working without a contract with the city since 2017. Talks with the city had previously stalled when the union's prior president demanded an 18% raise — with back pay — over three years.

The union elected a new president, John Catanzara, earlier this year, which led some to hope that the contract impasse might end.

That hope may prove to be short lived.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightftoot's office sent the FOP a proposed contract on Tuesday that provided for a 10% raise over a four-year period, but which also included a lengthy list of police reforms that would increase civilian oversight of the police department and provide for anonymous complaints between officers, the Sun-Times reported.

Currently, complaints against officers must be accompanied by a sworn affidavit, which reform advocates say makes police less likely to act as whistleblowers against their comrades.

Catanzara's response, according to the Sun-Times, was to storm out of the negotiating session and promise a "financial only" counteroffer — and to threaten that any city council member who voted against it would find themselves facing an election against candidates who are bankrolled by the police union.

"We will be taking names. We will be slating candidates. … We will have a $1 million-a-year PAC going forward starting next year. And in 2023, there's going to be a day of reckoning for these aldermen who think they can skate by under the radar and say they support the police, but do nothing. We're gonna see who shows up and who wants to do the right thing by the men and women of this police department who have absolutely been champions this whole summer and used like rented mules at the drop of a hat with no consideration whatsoever. Well, it's time to pay the piper," Catanzara said.

Catanzara declined to elaborate to the Chicago Tribune on which of the specifics in the mayor's reform plan he found objectionable, but he did say that he felt that it would weaken police officer's rights when faced with disciplinary actions. He also expressed outrage that the city negotiated contracts with the city's teacher's union and firefighters before completing contract negotiations with the police.

"We are not taking the short end of the stick...We're last in line when the teachers should have been last in line," Catanzara said.

Referring to the city's firefighters, Catanzara said, "Firemen get to go back to their firehouse and wait for the next call, no matter how long they're working. Police don't have that luxury. They're out there standing on foot posts for 12 or 14 hours. No bathrooms in sight. Women have to go find a dumpster to squat behind to go the bathroom. Getting s*** thrown at us. Fireworks shot at us. Spit on. .… Our profession is a harder profession — especially in this day and time. And we need to be treated and compensated accordingly."

Catanzara was also not impressed with Lightfoot's claim that the city is facing a $1.2 billion budget shortfall in 2021.

"I basically told them our members are not gonna take it over the barrel because you guys delayed us intentionally for three years now. And now, because, `Woe is me. We're poor,' now, we have to take it on the chin. That's not gonna happen," Catanzara told the Sun-Times.

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Little Rock Chief Sues Officers' Union Claiming Conspiracy

By ANDREW DeMILLO, Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Little Rock's police chief on Wednesday sued the local police union, two assistant chiefs and several officers, accusing them of conspiring to try and force him out of his job.

The federal lawsuit by Chief Keith Humphrey is the latest round in an escalating public fight within the department that is centered on his response to the fatal shooting of a Black motorist by a white officer last year.

The defendants include Charles Starks, the white officer who Humphrey fired over the shooting of Bradley Blackshire. Starks was later reinstated by a judge but submitted his resignation in September.

The lawsuit accuses the Little Rock Fraternal Order of Police and its executive board of orchestrating a campaign against the chief that included lawsuits accusing him of retaliating against assistant chiefs who testified against him in hearings over Starks' firing. It also accuses the union, Starks and a local blogger of publishing false stories online about him.

“This is about the right thing. ... It's not about Keith Humphrey," the chief said at a news conference at a Little Rock church. “You don't treat people this way."

An attorney for Starks did not have an immediate comment on the suit, and the union did not immediately reply to messages. An attorney for several officers named in the lawsuit called it an effort by the chief to silence his critics.

“It’s sad, unfortunate, unprecedented that the chief would be suing his own employer and his own officers," attorney Chris Burks said of the lawsuit, which also named a Little Rock human resources official as a defendant.

The Fraternal Order of Police approved a vote of no confidence resolution on Humphrey in June, citing the lawsuits and complaints against him. Humphrey, who is Black, said Monday that his lawsuit wasn't about race, though it claims that the union is treating him differently because of his race and his policing philosophy.

Humphrey was hired in 2019 by Mayor Frank Scott, who is the city's first popularly elected mayor. Humphrey told reporters that he hadn't talked with the mayor about his lawsuit before its filing, and a spokeswoman said Scott did not have any comment on the lawsuit.

Humphrey fired Starks over the Blackshire shooting, despite recommendations from the officer's supervisors that he stay on the force. In his resignation letter, Starks accused the chief of making his working conditions “intolerable" since he was reinstated.

___

Follow Andrew DeMillo on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ademillo

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Tags: Arkansas

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