Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson faced a full day of laudatory remarks and softball questions from aldermen Thursday. The conversation barely scratched the surface of one of the biggest issues hanging over the department: ongoing contract negotiations with the union that represents all rank and file police officers, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7. It is the city’s largest collective bargaining unit.
A controversial Bill of Rights section that has been accused of fostering a “code of silence” and hampering misconduct investigations is a major part of that contract. The topic was also noticeably absent at Wednesday’s meeting with the the interim chief administrator of the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA).
Instead, aldermen kept the questions granular and focused on quality of life issues: people parking on vacant lots or on their front lawn, staffing issues at the local precinct, follow-ups on specific shooting incidents or crimes, and concerns about increased drug sales. This gave Johnson and bureau chiefs time to focus their message on new crime-fighting strategies and initiatives to rebuild trust between officers and the neighborhoods they patrol.
“CPD entered 2017 with a revitalized and reimagined crime strategy as well as a number of planned reforms in the areas of personnel, use of force, training, transparency and community policing,” Johnson testified at the opening as he read from his prepared remarks.