At CPD graduation, Lightfoot assures cops, ‘I will always have your back’


Mayor Lori Lightfoot assured the Chicago Police Department’s new generation of officers “I will always have your back” on Tuesday, at a time when a base demoralized by a relentless string of canceled days off doesn’t necessarily believe him.

The mayor’s latest, most vocal attempt to reclaim support from the police who have abandoned him since his landslide victory in 2019 came at a graduation ceremony in the Navy Pier ballroom that also included the promotion new detectives, field training officers, captains and evidence technicians.

It was also almost a year to the day after CPD officers gathered at the University of Chicago Medical Center to support their injured colleague, Carlos Yanez Jr., and his slain partner, Ella French, literally turned their backs to the mayor as Lightfoot approached them. .

French was killed and Yanez fought for his life after being shot during a traffic stop in West Englewood.

“Our residents and our city need your skillful, courageous and quick response. I know what a responsibility it is. But I also want you to know that as mayor of this town, I will always support you. I will always ensure that we provide you with the best training, with the best resources to ensure that you are able to do your job and, when you need that extra support, that you have the resources you need to heal,” Lightfoot told graduates.

“As someone honored to serve in this department 20 years ago and seeing firsthand the sacrifice, intelligence, intelligence and innovation of our officers, I want to make sure you know that we let’s all see and that we’re here to support you in any way we can.

Lightfoot headed the CPD’s Office of Professional Standards, the internal predecessor to the civilian Office of Police Accountability.

New CPD evidence technicians are sworn in at the Chicago Police Department‘s graduation and promotion ceremony at Navy Pier on Tuesday.

Aldus. Matt O’Shea (19th), whose ward is home to dozens of police officers, challenged the mayor to ‘put his money where his mouth is’ – securing swift City Council approval of his ordinance guaranteeing to these officers one day off per week, without ties.

“This is a very important bill to show the men and women of the Chicago Police Department that we’re trying to lighten some of the load,” O’Shea said.

“What I hear over and over again – not just from officers in my community, but across the city – is that they feel elected officials and community leaders are not supported.”

Aldus. Anthony Napolitano (41st), a former Chicago firefighter and police officer, introduced another order to require officers to be told their schedules in advance, be able to refuse excessive overtime and be offered a raise salary if they accept these overtime hours.

Napolitano predicted that Lightfoot’s statement, “I’ve got your back” will fall on deaf ears for many reasons.

They range from what he called a pattern of “demonizing” officers as soon as a dodgy video is posted on social media to his choice of alien David Brown as CPD superintendent. The bill also includes the elimination of 614 police vacancies, the cancellation of days off in a way that sidelines officers too much and new policies limiting foot and vehicle pursuits, Napolitano said.

“You have abandoned the department. You see it as, crime is going to cause too many trials, so let it happen where it happens. That’s what the brass think now,” he said.

Police officers attend the Chicago Police Department's graduation and promotion ceremony at Navy Pier's Aon Grand Ballroom, Tuesday morning, August 9, 2022.

On Tuesday, officers attend the Chicago Police Department’s graduation and promotion ceremony at Navy Pier’s Aon Grand Ballroom.

Napolitano said he stood with rank and file officers at police headquarters on Sunday when the French star retired.

“An officer turned to me and said, ‘We don’t need a change just for our department. We need a change for our city or we will lose it. And I said, ‘I’ve been saying that for three and a half years.’ ”

Julie Troglia, the widow of Jeff Troglia, a Chicago police officer who took his own life in March 2021, was furious at what Lightfoot told the latest generation of officers. The mayor “hasn’t even begun to have his back,” she wrote in an email to the Sun-Times.

“We are families of loved ones who have lost their lives to the horrific conditions in which these men and women work. Conditions that were tolerated by his administration. If she really wants to support them and bring real change for them, she needs to have a conversation with our families.

New Chicago Police Officer Jeremiah Davis kisses his daughter Ava during family photos after the CPD graduation ceremony at Navy Pier on August 9, 2022.

Newly appointed Chicago Police Officer Jeremiah Davis kisses his daughter Ava during family photos after Tuesday’s CPD graduation ceremony at Navy Pier.

During Tuesday’s speech, Lightfoot did not dilute the challenges officers face.

The public’s “deep skepticism” of police officers can only be overcome if officers take the time to “get to know the neighborhoods” and know the people they are surveilling.

“Take the time to talk to the residents you serve. Get out of your car and walk around the streets saying “Hello”. Really soak up the vibrancy of these communities,” the mayor told the graduates.

“Engage with our residents because they want to get to know you. They need to know that you are not just a badge, a weapon and a uniform. They need to see you for who you are. See yourself as your families see you. As sons and daughters of this great city. As people who have chosen service over self. When you make these connections, it is the most powerful tool you will have.

After a tidal wave of police retirements and low turnout at police exams that once drew thousands, the CPD now has 11,762 sworn officers, down from 13,353 officers before taking office. by Lightfoot. The department has 1,408 sworn vacancies, according to the city.

There have been 814 retirements so far this year, compared to 973 all of last year and 625 in 2020.

Lightfoot balanced its 2021 budget by eliminating 614 vacancies in the police force.

As homicides and shootings rose last fall to levels not seen in a quarter-century, aldermen urged the mayor to reinstate those vacancies. Lightfoot resisted, arguing that the department was struggling to close the openings it had.

Officer Margaret Corcoran delivers the graduation speech at the Chicago Police Department's graduation and promotion ceremony on August 9, 2022.

Officer Margaret Corcoran delivers the graduation speech at the Chicago Police Department’s graduation and promotion ceremony on August 9, 2022.


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