by Todd Feurer, CBS Chicago web producer
CHICAGO (CBS) — Four years after the city’s last contract with the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police expired, the City Council on Tuesday approved a new eight-year contract for rank-and-file officers, giving them a total of 20% in raises over the life of the contract, which also includes a number of police accountability reforms.
The new pact with the FOP, which expires in 2025, will cost Chicago taxpayers a total of approximately $600 million, including more than $360 million in retroactive pay raises.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot already has set aside about $100 million in the 2021 budget to help finance the retroactive raises, and according to published reports the city will refinance existing debt to cover the remaining cost.
Ald. Nicholas Sposato (38th) said the raises are “well-deserved for these hard-working men and women.”
In addition to the pay raises for officers, Lightfoot’s office said the contract also includes a number of changes to the process for investigating claims of police misconduct, including an end to the 40-year ban on investigating anonymous complaints filed against officers.
The contract would also would eliminate a requirement to destroy police disciplinary records after five years, in light of an Illinois Supreme Court ruling last year that destroying those documents would violate that state’s public records law.
Other changes to police disciplinary procedures are still being negotiated with the FOP, and could ultimately go to binding arbitration.
Before the 40-8 vote to approve the contract, Ald. Jason Ervin (28th), who chairs the City Council Black Caucus, urged his colleagues to support the deal, acknowledging it is “not a finished product on police reform,” but saying it takes important steps to improving accountability for police officers.
However, some aldermen suggested the city should have gone back to the bargaining table to demand more reforms from the FOP.
“I think we need to hold out and finish the agreement. I think we need to get all of the protections that we’re looking for, all of the reforms we’re looking for,” said Ald. Maria Hadden (49th).
“This contract also does little to nothing to ensure that there’s accountability when there’s false statements, and there’s no provisions that ensure that officers provide accurate statements within 24 hours,” Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) said.
Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10th) pushed back on the suggestion from some colleagues that the City Council should reject the contract until it includes more reforms, noting the pact is the result of four years of negotiations.
She said the deal makes “real and meaningful steps towards greater accountability,” and said if aldermen were to reject it, they would risk having the entire contract end up in the hands of an arbitrator, including pay raises and accountability matters, without input from the City Council.
“Anyone who has negotiated a [collective bargaining agreement] understands that a contract is a floor, not a ceiling. It is a document which ensures that both parties can find common ground, work with one another to achieve mutual goals,” she said. “Nobody professes that this is going to cure all of the ills of the Police Department, or for accountability reform, but big picture-wise, if you look at this agreement, there are 36 separate provisions that we have changed that fall under the umbrella of accountability.”
In other business on Tuesday, aldermen also approved:
A $20.5 million settlement for two men who spent 23 years in prison for a murder before they were cleared, in one of several wrongful convictions tied to disgraced former CPD Detective Reynaldo Guevara. Jose Montanez and Armando Serrano were convicted in the 1993 murder of Rodrigo Vargas, whose body was found in a van parked near a Chicago elementary school, but were later released after the Illinois Appellate Court reversed the convictions, finding “profoundly alarming acts of misconduct” in the Vargas murder probe, and Cook County prosecutors later asked a judge to dismiss the case altogether. Attorneys from the Exoneration Project at the University of Chicago said Montanez and Serrano were framed by former Chicago Police Det. Reynaldo Guevara, who has been linked to more than a dozen wrongful convictions.
An ordinance requiring banks where the city of Chicago keeps its municipal accounts to disclose more information about who they provide home loans to, in an effort by aldermen to address longtime racial disparities in who is approved for mortgages. If banks want to remain as or be chosen to serve as Chicago’s municipal depositories, they would be required to provide demographic information on who they lend to, who they hire, and why loans have been denied. Aldermen also would be required to hold an annual public hearing to discuss the information provided by banks before approving each year’s list of municipal depositories. Banks are already required to provide the same information to federal regulators. Supporters said the new disclosure requirements are aimed at helping address disparities in home lending practices in Chicago by arming aldermen with information on how banks are performing before the City Council chooses whether to do business with those financial institutions.
The appointment of Ald. Jason Ervin (28th) as the new chair of the Committee on Contracting Oversight and Equity. Ald. Carrie Austin (34th), who is facing federal bribery charges, resigned as the committee’s chair last month at the request of Mayor Lori Lightfoot.