Alderman plan would fold Chicago aviation officers into CPD

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Chicago alderman are discussing the roles of aviation officers are a passenger was dragged from a United plane. (WLS)

A Chicago alderman proposed a plan Wednesday that would make the city's aviation security officers part of the Chicago Police Department.

The officers, called ASOs, were captured on video earlier this month forcibly removing a United passenger from a plane. The incident sparked international attention.

Now, Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th Ward) wants to fold them into CPD and make them fully sworn officers, the same as those working the city's streets.

However, some aldermen are concerned that folding the ASOs - who at both O'Hare and Midway airports -- into CPD is not so easy.

First of all, both groups have different unions. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) says there are 323 ASOs. Chicago police belong to the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP).

"Will they belong to SEIU or FOP?" asked Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30th Ward), chairman of the Committee on Public Safety. "That's a distinction that needs to be clarified. Either way, the Department of Aviation pays their salaries."

Of the SEIU's 323 officers, 199 of them are over 40 years old. That's an issue because, to become a sworn police officer, applicants are required to be between 21 and 40 to start. So what does it mean for aviation security officers over 40?

"I couldn't support it only because I don't want to see guys lose their jobs who may have been there, like I say, 10, 15, 20 years, and now they don't have jobs," said Ald. Nicholas Sposato (38th Ward).

Lopez's proposal would now either be sent to the Committee on Public Safety or the Committee on Finance for consideration.

"I'm open minded about it. But it certainly is a drastic measure," said Ald. Ed Burke (14th Ward), chairman of the finance committee.

"There's a train on the track. We either got to stop it, or move it forward so that we can clarify what's happened," Reboyras said.

As for Mayor Rahm Emanuel, he again backed his aviation commissioner today.

"I compliment what Ginger Evans, the head of aviation did, by suspending the 3 employees and doing a top-to-bottom review, and she'll have that review back in a couple of days," Emanuel said.

In the meantime, Burke and five other aldermen want to prohibit any city of Chicago employees from assisting airline workers to remove any passengers from a plane.

Burke says, under this proposal, the only city workers allowed to be on-board would be responding to a crime or medical emergency.

Related Topics:
United Airlineschicago city councilchicago police departmentChicagoO'HareMidway AirportLoop
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