Police union exec says officers feel frustrated when enforcement efforts could lead to disciplinary action
Martin Preib is convinced there’s too much uncertainty nowadays about what it means to be a Chicago police officer.
“No one knows anymore what you can and don’t do,” Preib, vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) recently told the Chicago City Wire. “Officers feel like to take action means to open yourself up to complaints where you could be disciplined, lose time or even be fired. They feel like discipline is now out of control and has become totally arbitrary.”
Preib points to a recent episode in the Chicago downtown area in which at least 30 teens were arrested and involved more than 200 officers as Exhibit A for why he feels the way that he does.
At different hotspots across the Loop, teens fought with one another, struck strangers and blocked traffic, the Sun-Times reported. In all, up to 500 teens are estimated to have flooded the area from the Magnificent Mile to Millennium Park with the arrest charges ranging from disorderly conduct to theft to obstruction of traffic and battery.
In the aftermath, a Chicago police officer who asked to remain anonymous told Local Government Information Service, publisher of this publication, that officers now feel so handcuffed they can’t even refer to the incident as the “mob action” they believe it to be.
"Well, it’s tough (for the Chicago Police Department) because … once they assign a title to their (the kids) actions, it gets spun and forces people to pick a side,” the officer added.
Preib argues it is clear who the victims are. “The public-at-large is most hurt by all this,” he said. “Police want to confront gang violence in the city, but when you handcuff police you’re hurting officers and the public in general.”
In the end, Preib said the system of checks and balances is now null and void across most of the Chicago area.
“The city is run by one political party and that party has built a power base off of vilifying police officers,” he said. “We need a political leader that’s willing to stand up and back officers. I don’t think we had that under (Mayor Rahm) Emanuel, hopefully things will be different under the new mayor.”