It looks like we can count the Chicago Police Department among the groups of people who are determined to make a scene next week when International Olympic Committee officials come to Chicago to take an official look at the city – which is in the running to host the Summer Olympics of 2016.
There are many activist groups upset about what they see as the city’s willingness to make improvements to aspects of Chicago that will be seen by the IOC, but not to any place that would actually benefit residents.
THERE ARE ALSO those people who are just malcontents and don’t want Chicago to take on any kind of large-scale event because they’d rather live on a small scale – almost as if Chicago were nothing more than Indianapolis or Peoria.
Then, there will be the police, who are upset these days that Mayor Richard M. Daley withdrew a pay raise that was being proposed as part of a new contract between the city and the police department.
Fraternal Order of Police President Mark Donahue told the Chicago Tribune that police officers may picket City Hall on Thursday – the day that a 16-member evaluation commission will arrive in the city for a five-day visit.
It’s just an “informational” picket, which means that it will be off-duty cops working the line and holding up signs with crass slogans against Hizzoner. Cops on-duty will be providing the full law enforcement services we would expect of them.
NOW I UNDERSTAND this is a free country, with freedom of expression being a primary right of the public. These police officers have a right to express their displeasure with the mayor.
If they want to make a public spectacle of themselves while trying to mess with the mayor and his dreams of the world focusing its attention on Chicago for a couple of weeks in August 2016, they have that right.
But I would hope that people take into account that this matter with the police is a constant back and forth between the department and the mayor. The idea that this ought to have any bearing on the city’s bid to get the Olympic Games – instead of Madrid, Rio de Janeiro or Tokyo – is absurd.
This latest complaint is about the fact that Daley had his negotiators back away from talks of including a pay raise. For all we know, those talks will resume at some point in the future.
THE WITHDRAWAL FOR the time being was meant to send a message, since it was timed for the week following the “no confidence” vote the union representing Chicago police officers took against the job performance of Supt. Jody Weis.
The officers were upset that Weis ultimately gave in and provided a federal court with a list of officers who had multiple complaints of abuse and brutality filed against them during their time with the police department.
Of course, had Weis not turned that list over, a judge was prepared to hold him in contempt of court and possibly order him jailed.
The fact that Weis insisted on making a blistering statement in court while turning the list over, saying that he thought his actions would harm the privacy concerns of his police officers, matters not to the rank and file.
IT ALL GOES back to the fact that Weis was not some kid from Beverly or the East Side neighborhoods who entered the Police Academy after graduating high school and worked his way up through the department from overnight patrol duty to the top ranks.
Instead, he’s former FBI. He was brought in by Daley specifically because he is a law enforcement type who was familiar with Chicago’s circumstances and problems, but not a part of the C.P.D. culture.
Of course, many of these officers are the types who think the problem is having some “outsider” come in and try to tell them what to do.
If anything, new Illinois State Police Director Jonathon Monken will have an easier time coming from the outside of that law enforcement agency, even though he’s only 29. But he is a veteran of the Gulf War and a graduate of the Army academy at West Point.
WHICH MEANS HE’S a part of the military culture that many police officers wish they could be included in. It is the reason why many former military personnel become police when they re-enter civilian life.
Weis is a “G-man” whose former colleagues occasionally wind up investigating local police for their wrong-doings on the job.
My point in reciting all this is to say that the police dispute with Daley goes back so many incidents that it is difficult to say who provoked who – other than to note that both sides would quickly place blame with the other for “starting it.”
Is the picket a response to the pay raise being withdrawn? Or was the pay raise a response to the no-confidence vote?
WAS THE NO-confidence vote a response to Weis’ unwillingness to go to jail in defense of a law enforcement culture that he was supposed to be shaking up? Was all this brought on when Daley had the unmitigated gall (in the minds of police insiders) to bring in an outsider to head the department?
Was the need to bring in an outsider made necessary by the department’s past actions? Or was it evidence that Daley doesn’t understand what the police need to do their jobs?
See how confusing this childish mess can be? I have a headache and my fingers are sore just from typing out the back-and-forth portion of this commentary.
So what should the International Olympic Committee think when/if they see the sight of officers bearing picket signs, and possibly engaging in anti-Daley chants? I’d hope they would realize that all cities have their people willing to stir up trouble, and not pay too much credence to what amounts to a temper tantrum by the police union.