Police Union President Kevin Graham claims his union was shut out of transition talks organized for Chicago Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot.
Speaking to reporters after a City Club address on Tuesday, Graham said the union wasn’t offered a seat at any of the transition team conversations.
“We don’t think that’s the best way to go forward,” said Graham. The city’s contract with the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 expired two years ago.
Contract talks with outgoing Mayor Rahm Emanuel took a backseat at a politically sensitive time for Chicago in the wake of the fatal 2014 police shooting of Laquan McDonald. Just last year, hundreds of Chicago police officers protested outside City Hall during a monthly City Council meeting, demanding city attorneys join them at the bargaining table.
In fact, it was Lightfoot, then president of the Chicago Police Board, whom Emanuel named to chair a task force on police accountability after the Laquan McDonald video was made public. The task force report Lightfoot released in 2016 said the police union contract stifles investigations into allegations of police misconduct. A year later, the Department of Justice said the contract fosters a code of silence among the rank and file.
The current contract bars anonymous complaints against police officers and lets them review any audio or video footage of an incident before giving a statement to investigators.
Graham has denied any existence of a code of silence and reaffirmed that position on Tuesday. He added that it was “a little silly” to suggest removing the provision that all complaints against officers come with a signed affidavit.
“Nowhere in our society do we have people that do not face their accusers. That’s just wrong,” Graham told reporters. He scoffed at the suggestion that people are afraid of retaliation. “People are not afraid to come forward. If it is important, they will do it.”