At a time when Chicago cops feel demoralized and the city struggles to recruit new cops, we can’t imagine why the mayor would go after cops for moonlighting.
If the Chicago Police Department’s rules on side jobs for cops are too loose – and we’re not convinced – the time to resolve the issue was during contract negotiations with the officers’ union, the Fraternal Order. of the police. This did not happen, although we understand that final work on the deal is underway. The new police contract, ratified by union members in August, contains no new restrictions on outside employment.
To re-press this issue, as Mayor Lori Lightfoot reportedly did in an interview last week with Axios, seems unnecessarily divisive to us, especially at a time when the city should be fully focused on implementing a new one. more urgent rule for cops – that every officer get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
In the interview with Axios, Lightfoot said she wanted the city to monitor more closely the secondary duties performed by police officers when they are not on duty. One of his concerns is that Chicago taxpayers face costly legal settlements when something goes wrong with these side jobs. Over the past five years, according to a Chicago Reporter investigation, CPD has paid more than $ 10 million to settle at least 32 lawsuits against officers on leave.
“When you see them in hotels, bars, restaurants, other places, they look like police officers on duty,” Lightfoot told Axios. “And U.S [as a city] end up being held accountable in court for work that they do that is not authorized by the ministry.
“It’s a question of risk management,” continued the mayor, “and we will continue to fight for [more control] in arbitration.
The Chicago Reporter found that the CPD’s rules on outside employment are the weakest in the country among large city police departments. Other departments require officers to obtain permission to work outside the home, limit the number of hours they can spend in the moonlight, and prohibit them from performing jobs that could create a conflict of interest. , like a casino or a strip club.
Other police departments are imposing stricter limits on moonlighting not only to reduce the risk of costly lawsuits, but also to ensure officers are fresh and rested.
Our own take on the matter looks more like this: Cops are big boys and girls. They know they need to show up rested and alert to do their jobs well, and what they do in their free time should be left to them as much as is reasonably possible.
If a cop is doing a bad job because he’s tired and stressed, then the city should lower the pressure on him for doing a bad job – a fine, a suspension, a firing, whatever – not for staying very late. the night before working for security at a bar.
City hall should not necessarily close the door on imposing limits on moonlighting, especially to minimize conflicts of interest, but the timing of doing so was at the heart of contract negotiations. This ship has sailed.
Meanwhile, the FOP is expected to drop its resistance to a much more urgent rule pushed by the mayor, mandatory vaccines.
As we wrote last week, unions have an appropriate role to play in negotiating the practical rules of the mandate, such as ensuring that employees get paid time off if they need to be quarantined. The International Union of Workers of the North American States-Illinois, which represents about 260 state workers covered by the agreement, recently crafted a sane deal in this direction.
But to say that the mayor’s mandate on the coronavirus vaccine is a “violation” of “constitutional rights,” as six aldermen allied with the FOP wrote in a letter to the mayor this week, is ludicrous. It is no more an infringement of freedom than forcing children to be vaccinated against polio or forcing adults to wear clothes in public.
The FOP and the six aldermen – Derrick Curtis (18th), Silvana Tabares (23rd), Felix Cardona (31st), Nick Sposato (38th), Anthony Napolitano (41st) and Jim Gardiner (45th) – should stop acting as yahoos and get on board to end this pandemic.
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