Father Pfleger calls for overhaul of police union contracts

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Activist priest Father Michael Pfleger is calling for an overhaul of Chicago police contracts and for someone outside the Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration to represent the public in negotiations with the Fraternal Order of Police union.

"We must make sure this bargaining agreement being done now does not protect the bad cop," Pfleger said Tuesday.

With Rev. Jesse Jackson at his side, Pfleger called on Emanuel to include public representatives - aldermen perhaps - in negotiations with the police union.

How Chicago police are investigated and disciplined is largely governed by past labor agreements negotiated by city lawyers.

"The community is the one that suffers if the union agreement is something that protects bad officers," Pfleger said.

"Make the rules transparent for the people. I hope the mayor will hear our moral appeal," Jackson said.

The activists said the union contract not only makes it difficult for citizens to complain about police misconduct, but it also does not allow the department to reward police officers who act as whistleblowers. Additionally, under the current union agreement most officer disciplinary records are destroyed after five years.

"We have to have a new level of accountability on the streets of the city of Chicago," Emanuel said.

The mayor did not respond directly to Pfleger's demand, but repeated his belief that restoring police-community trust involves more than changing rules governing officer misconduct allegations.

"We have to have transparency in the police department for the trust we want in the community, but we also have to have the community involved in a new level of accountability for what's going on in our streets," he said.

The current Fraternal Order of Police contract expires in June 2017. The union, which represents over 10,000 active city police officers, did not respond to ABC7 Eyewitness News's request for comment.
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