CHICAGO — Jesus “Chuy” Garcia took to the airwaves Tuesday with a new ad that promises “a safer, prosperous Chicago.” But the ad itself may violate a Chicago police department prohibition on officers in uniform campaigning for a political candidate.
The commercial features images of Congressman Garcia walking down a street flanked by two uniformed officers whose faces are fully visible. While it’s not uncommon for candidates to use imagery of police – or even show a politician speaking with unidentified officers – the police participation in this ad is notable because the officers appear to fully participate in the filming and staged walking shots.
While officers are allowed to engage in political activities while off-duty they are prohibited from doing so while presenting themselves as the police. Members may not “wear a uniform or any part thereof which would identify the individuals as Chicago Police Officer, or use property of the Chicago Police Department,” reads CPD policy.
Garcia’s campaign confirmed the people in the ad are officers – not actors – but noted they were off-duty when the commercial was recorded.
A Chicago police spokesperson said the department is looking into the matter.
Ethics have been an issue in the campaign with Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s challengers blasting her team for sending an email to Chicago Public Schools teachers seeking campaign volunteers in exchange for the potential for class credit. Lightfoot later admitted the move was a mistake and it’s now being investigated by the CPS inspector general.
Garcia called the Lightfoot solicitation “deeply problematic” and “desperate.”
The leader of the union that represents Chicago police officers previously faced department discipline for a social media post that featured him in uniform accompanied by political statements.
Other mayoral candidates – including Lightfoot – have used images of themselves with police and firefighters; but those photos appeared to be from previous events or spontaneous interactions as opposed to a staged campaign commercial.
An ad for Paul Vallas shows the candidate shaking hands with a Chicago firefighter who is in a city fire truck at the time. It’s unclear whether the interaction was spontaneous or staged. A Vallas spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.