An administrative law judge has recommended that the Illinois Labor Relations Board throw out the Chicago Police Department’s new disciplinary guidelines, dealing an early defeat to the city as it attempts to standardize the punishments of an erratic and often toothless police disciplinary system.
The finding in favor of the city’s largest police union, the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, determined that the department violated labor law by failing to bargain with the union over the new guidelines.
The recommendation from Administrative Law Judge Anna Hamburg-Gal calls on the state board to force the Police Department to rescind any discipline imposed under the advisory guidelines since they were adopted in February and reassess the punishment to be imposed under the more informal system in place before the guidelines existed. While it is unclear how many cases could be affected, the city closes hundreds of disciplinary cases in a typical month. Through the first five months of this year, for example, the department had closed more than 2,000 disciplinary cases, though historically the department has found misconduct and levied punishment only in a slim percentage of cases.
In the case of the disciplinary guidelines, the administrative law judge sided with the union in finding that the department had made a unilateral change to a mandatory subject of bargaining. The city argued that the guidelines resulted in limited change by simply putting in writing the department’s informal process for formulating discipline.
The union challenged the new guidelines before elections in April swept in new FOP leaders who have been vocal in their opposition to the city’s efforts to revamp discipline and make other changes in the Police Department.
Now if only Rahm would learn to read…and comprehend.