Unionized Chicago Reporters Target Labor Rights of Police

August 30, 2023
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A labor victory limiting the power of a kangaroo court investigating Chicago police has unionized reporters scrambling

An arbitrator in the contract negotiations between the City of Chicago and the union representing Chicago police, FOP Lodge 7, has backed a longstanding labor right for officers to choose arbitration in police misconduct cases rather than face judgment in front of the Chicago Police Board.

The arbitrator’s ruling threatens to undermine the power of the city’s civilian oversight agency, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA), and the Chicago Police Board that renders judgments derived from COPA investigations, in the civilian discipline process. For Chicago reporters, the possibility of COPA and the Police Board losing complete control over disciplinary matters, particularly the meting out of punishments to officers, is a nightmare scenario.

Why? COPA and the Police Board have been willingly at the disposal of the anti-police movement for years. Chicago’s police oversight agencies have little to do with addressing police misconduct. Instead, they are pioneers in the politicalization of the criminal justice system that has emerged across the nation. As part of their alliance with the anti-police movement, COPA and the Police Board conspire with Chicago’s monolithic media engine to criminalize the police. Rather than investigate the bizarre, nonsensical, and clearly malevolent investigations by COPA that have led to the firing of so many good officers, the Chicago media machine became a crucial public-relations outlet for the radicalized agencies.

It would take books to cover the myriad examples of media, COPA, and Police Board collusion, but one case stands out above all others.

On July 3, 2018, two Tactical officers serving in the 11th District, Larry Lanier and David Taylor, spotted and reported an armed suspect, Terrell Eason, and gave chase. The officers repeatedly announced their presence. After jumping a fence, Eason got up on all fours, armed and with his finger in the trigger well. The officers fired, killing him.

COPA arbitrarily ruled the shooting was not justified and recommended the Police Board fire both officers. The Board leveled even more charges, alleging the officers committed the heinous offense of not remembering to turn on their cameras in the course of chasing an armed offender. How dare they?

Superintendent Dave Brown ruled the shooting justified.

While the officers were marinating in the COPA stew, the agency’s mendacious investigation trumpeted by a legion of quasi-journalists drooling at the prospect of hanging two more officers, Eason’s attorney marched into federal court and filed a lawsuit against Chicago and detectives. Certainly nothing strengthened the case against the officers more than the COPA findings.

It might not have been such a good idea: The federal judge assigned the case, the Honorable Joan Lefkow, dismissed the lawsuit, claiming the actions of the officers were lawful. In her ruling ending the lawsuit, Lefkow asserted:

"There is, however, ample authority that is more closely analogous to the officers’ use of deadly force here that suggests that their actions were objectively reasonable."

Lefkow’s decision shooting down a federal lawsuit was a blow to the anti-police movement. An example of how the civilian oversight process of reviewing police misconduct allegations is unfair and biased, Lefkow’s verdict tossing the lawsuit over the Eason shooting also revealed how civilian oversight often acts in utter defiance of established law and policy.

Did Lefkow’s ruling in the Eason shooting initiate a media investigation into why the city’s oversight agencies come to decisions that a federal judge rejects? Hardly. The potential multi-story coverage of the judge’s ruling and COPA was dutifully ignored by Chicago’s press.

As it is, the response to the possibility of Chicago police obtaining arbitration generated desperate and loony responses from the head of the Chicago Police Board, Ghian Foreman, and was given lavish attention by his media lackeys. The process of an arbitrator reviewing and ruling on a police shooting is not open to the public, Foreman fumed. It could be made in secret.

Back the camera up and consider how hysterical Foreman’s claims are given the changes to Chicago policing in the last decade, a decade that has seen violent crime explode across the city and an exodus of officers from the department.

Radical anti-police legislation like the Safey Act eliminates a signed affidavit requirement for filing a complaint against the police. A law that has never been enforced by Cook County state’s attorneys, the requirement at least dissuaded some people from filing false complaints. Now, with the elimination of the affidavit, every time the police arrest one of the thousands of gun-toting gang members with criminal histories for weapons violations and violent assaults, suspects can file a complaint against an officer without fear of any legal accountability. Cameras with audio recording have been placed in squad cars, and officers are now required to wear body-worn cameras. In addition to cameras recording officers’ every action, a raft of new of vague policy changes written in pure bureaucratic babble like the obligation to “de-escalate” empower COPA and the Police Board to gin up charges against any officer, particularly in use of force incidents.

Perhaps this is what Foreman was truly saying: With arbitration, COPA can no longer be certain only our trumped-up investigations will guide rulings against cops, investigations that include suspicious leaks of false information to the city’s bought-and-sold press.

Arbitration could also address another dire consequence of COPA’s unspoken war on the police: COPA and the Police Board rulings directly and indirectly feed Chicago’s most thriving industry, lawsuits against officers. COPA’s biased rulings are ground zero for the creation of these lawsuits. Now well past $1 billion and clearly heading to $2 billion, the lawsuits threaten to bankrupt a city in dire financial straits.

Another benefit of arbitration would limit the corruption of Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx in her quest to use her office as an instrument to criminalize the police. The most corrupt of the Soros prosecutors that have waged war on the police and emboldened violent crime in big cities throughout the country, trumped up COPA investigations provide valuable opportunities for Foxx to turn the investigations into formal criminal charges against officers.

Arbitration is a truly independent, third-party review of police misconduct, in which arbitrators must adhere to clearly established guidelines and previous rulings. It is a common union right, utilized by unions as a fair process.

The media attacks on arbitration pose a problem for the city’s left-wing media. As arbitration is a right enjoyed among union members throughout the country, including teacher’s unions mired in scandals involving sex abuse allegations against students, one wonders, where are the stories by the media questioning the right of arbitration for these scandal-ridden institutions?

Moreover, many of these “journalists” are members of unions themselves. The Chicago Tribune voted to organize years ago in the wake of the paper being sold to hedge fund owners. Hardly a week goes by without these reporters bemoaning or expressing annoyance with the big bad, capitalist owners not giving them basic union rights and benefits.

That same sympathy for union rights clearly does not extend to the police. Foreman and the media criticism of the ruling giving arbitration to Chicago police is just another sign that the war on law enforcement in Chicago is a mission issue across the whole spectrum of broadcast and print media in Chicago. A driving force for decades, the hostility with police over the last four decades has transformed the media from a reliable watchdog of the into an enemy of the city.

The media’s attacks on arbitration are not as egregious as their willingness to trumpet a false exoneration claim of some bloodthirsty murderer, but it is a sign that, among their many acts of misconduct, the label scab might very well be added.

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