Statement on Arbitrator's Opinion Regarding Police Disciplinary Cases
An arbitrator recently issued an opinion that allows Chicago police officers to choose to have the most serious police disciplinary cases heard by an arbitrator rather than the Chicago Police Board.
“The arbitrator’s decision, if allowed to take effect, will be a serious setback for police accountability in Chicago,” stated Police Board President Ghian Foreman. “This decision will drive these cases behind closed doors at a time when it has never been more important to increase the public’s confidence in the process for handling allegations of police misconduct and to build greater trust between the police and the communities they serve.”
For more than 60 years (since 1961), the Police Board has had the sole responsibility for deciding cases in which the Superintendent of Police recommends that a sworn officer be discharged from the Chicago Police Department. These cases range from charges of unjustified police-involved shootings to other significant allegations of misconduct, such as use of excessive force, illegal searches, and sexual misconduct.
Impartiality, due process, and transparency are essential values of any police disciplinary system. The Police Board upholds these values in the following ways:
- The Board is an independent and impartial body of nine Chicagoans who decide cases based on the evidence made part of the record at the disciplinary hearing;
- All of the Board’s disciplinary hearings are open to the public;
- Both the Superintendent and the accused Officer have a right to due process—they each have a right at the hearing to present evidence and to cross-examine witnesses;
- The Board takes final action on all cases in public at its monthly meeting, where each Board member’s vote is announced and recorded; and
- The Board posts on its website its written decisions, which include detailed explanations of the reasons for the Board’s findings.
Police officers currently have the option of requesting that either an arbitrator or the Police Board review disciplinary suspensions of 31 – 365 days. Only one such request has been filed with the Police Board since 2014.
“Police accountability and, ultimately, the people of Chicago will suffer if the most serious police disciplinary cases are removed from the Police Board’s jurisdiction, which is what will happen if this decision is allowed to stand,” stated President Foreman.
Updated on August 11, 2023
On August 2, 2023, the arbitrator issued a supplemental opinion. On August 11, 2023, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 filed with the Police Board a motion to transfer pending cases to the arbitration call or in the alternative to stay all Police Board cases.