The Next Shoe: the Chicago Police

by Dave Schuler on February 9, 2013

While we’re on the subject of police officers, as I predicted when the CPS teachers received their raises, Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police is demanding a whopping raise for its members:

City Hall has enough money to give Chicago police officers 12 percent raises over two years and still hire more cops to bolster the size of the force, the head of the city’s Fraternal Order of Police said Thursday in defending the union’s contract proposal.

Union President Michael Shields said it’s simply a matter of Mayor Rahm Emanuel making public safety a priority. In addition to 6 percent yearly raises, the union wants $3,000 yearly “cost of living in Chicago” stipends for police to help defray the expense of the requirement that they live within city limits.

The FOP proposal is an early contract offer in negotiations that could drag on for some time before eventually going to an independent arbitrator for a ruling, as was the case with the last police contract in 2010. Union representatives are distributing the offer to police officers this week.

Asked whether the union proposal is realistic, the mayor said Thursday that he doesn’t want to negotiate in public.

“In whatever conversation I’ve had, or negotiations, I represent the taxpayers and what they can afford. That’s my perspective,” Emanuel said at a news conference to announce that the city will put more money into programs designed to keep at-risk youths out of trouble.

Ald. Patrick O’Connor, who is Emanuel’s City Council floor leader, noted the city’s financial struggles.

“Anybody that’s been observing city government for the last several years knows we do not have a lot of money for the essentials, never mind raises and increases and benefits to a group that basically already has one of the best deals of all the unionized workers in the city of Chicago,” said O’Connor, 40th. “But I can understand where they would want to carve out this territory, because the strategy must be, ask for significantly more than they think they’re going to get, and maybe it will level off at an area that’s acceptable to them.”

As I said back during the negotiations over teachers’ salaries, the issue is not whether they want more or deserve more. The issue is whether they are regulating their desire for more money to the capabilities of the community they serve. I think the answer is “No”.

As I’ve documented here before, Chicago police officers are compensated well by the standards of big city police departments. The typical Chicago cop has W-2 income of around $80,000 plus generous benefits. That’s for a job that requires only a high school education. Some might point to the danger of being a police officer. Statistically, it’s more dangerous not to be a police officer in Chicago than it is to be a police officer.

Something that I think should be a subject in any negotiations with the FOP is police misconduct. My back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that Chicago will be shelling out $50 million this year alone settling clear cases of police misconduct. The taxpayers of Chicago will be bearing those costs. Why shouldn’t the Chicago police bear some or all of the burden?

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Icepick February 9, 2013 at 7:23 pm

My back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that Chicago will be shelling out $50 million this year alone settling clear cases of police misconduct.

Hey, I thought the police were always models of decorum. What, do you guys have a rampant lawyer problem up there in Chicago?

Icepick February 9, 2013 at 7:24 pm

So the police want a 12% pay hike. Do they promise 12% improved results?

Statistically, it’s more dangerous not to be a police officer in Chicago than it is to be a police officer.

Perhaps the residents should demand a pay increase from the Police Department.

Icepick February 9, 2013 at 7:50 pm

When do the fire fighters and the regular government workers get their pay raises?

Dave Schuler February 9, 2013 at 8:18 pm

When do the fire fighters and the regular government workers get their pay raises?

Well, pretty clearly the firefighters will be next in line. As to how the negotiation with the FOP is likely to go, I expect a lot of bluster from Emanuel, followed by caving in to whatever is being demanded.

Icepick February 9, 2013 at 8:29 pm

I expect a lot of bluster from Emanuel, followed by caving in to whatever is being demanded.

How much longer can that continue? Is Rahm planning on getting elected to something else before the bills come due?

Icepick February 10, 2013 at 11:46 am

I saw a story this morning that federal workers are finding the proposed 1% increase to their pay unconscionable. I agree, though probably for different reasons.

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