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Chicago PD gets first new contract since 2017, with 20% raises including back pay

A 40-8 vote cemented the deal between Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the FOP after years of tense negotiations

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Chicago police officers work in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago on Sept. 7.

Erin Hooley

By John Byrne
Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — The Chicago Fraternal Order of Police’s first new contract in four years got its final approval during Tuesday’s City Council meeting, granting rank-and-file officers with a total of 20% in raises along with some accountability measures.

In a 40-8 vote, aldermen cemented the deal between Mayor Lori Lightfoot and FOP Local 7 after years of tense negotiations over the contract for the union, whose members include more than 11,000 patrol officers, detectives and others currently active in the Chicago Police Department.

Before the vote, West Side Ald. Jason Ervin, 28th, called on colleagues to support the FOP deal, saying it takes steps toward greater police accountability, though it is not “a finished product on police reform.”

“Now, granted, it is not where all of us would like to be,” but it’s “far from where we are,” said Ervin, who chairs the council Black Caucus.

Ervin called the contract a “good deal for taxpayers.”

But North Side Ald. Maria Hadden, 49th, said the city should stay at the bargaining table and keep pushing for more police reform.

“I don’t think that this agreement, at this point in time, is benefiting the residents of Chicago to the best it can,” Hadden said.

And Pilsen Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez, 25th, said aldermen “have to get this right” to make sure police are held accountable for misconduct, and it doesn’t have enough teeth to do that.

“When we vote, let’s remember we’re voting on the safety of our constituents,” Sigcho-Lopez said.

After the vote, a protester in the upstairs council chambers gallery struck the glass partition and repeatedly shouted “You know that contract bogus!” before police led him out.

Besides Sigcho-Lopez and Hadden, the aldermen who voted no were Daniel La Spata, Matt Martin, Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, Michael Rodriguez, Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez and Andre Vasquez.

The contract grants officers 20% raises over eight years, 10.5% of it retroactive to 2017, when the last FOP contract expired. Police would get another 9.5% in raises going forward into 2025.

The retroactive pay would cost about $365 million, according to the city. Lightfoot set aside about $103 million in this year’s budget to cover part of the police back pay. Her administration plans to refinance existing debt to pay for the rest of it.

Among police accountability measures are the elimination of a requirement that police disciplinary records older than five years be destroyed; an end to allowing officers to change their testimony during disciplinary investigations after viewing video evidence; and recognition that officers who report potential misconduct are “acting in the highest traditions of public service.”

The agreement, which has been ratified by the police union, also addresses how to deal with a new state law that allows anonymous complaints against cops and no longer requires complainants to sign affidavits attesting to the accuracy of their statements.

City negotiator Mike Frisch has said Lightfoot’s office is still bargaining with the FOP to require officers to disclose when and where they work outside jobs and limit the number of outside work hours. That would be handled in a separate deal, he said.

Tuesday’s vote capped off more than two years of heated negotiations that were often overshadowed by public feuding between Lightfoot and FOP President John Catanzara. The latest chapter of negotiations saw division between union and city officials over police discipline as the FOP continues to oppose a federal consent decree to overhaul the police force.

The new contract also comes after another violent summer in Chicago concludes with soaring homicides, amplifying the pressure on Lightfoot to address crime. Lightfoot last month pledged the increase the Chicago police budget despite opposition from progressive aldermen who would rather that money go toward other city services.

Tribune’s Jeremy Gorner contributed.

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