CHICAGO (CBS) – Chicago police officers have elected a new leader for their union as the department undergoes changes at the top and as the next mayor prepares to take office.
Mark Donahue held the position of Fraternal Order of Police for three terms. But now he’s out, and young patrolman Michael Shields is in, CBS 2’s Pamela Jones reports.
At age 33, Shields says he’s the youngest member to ever hold the position of president. He’s also the first police officer to be FOP president.
But Shields, a 10-year veteran of the force, says his job as an officer gives him a unique perspective about the crime on the streets of Chicago.
“I notice that our outgoing superintendent (Jody Weis) takes credit for the reduction in crime. And in all honesty, it’s not just him,” Shields said in an interview Friday. “It is the men and women of the Chicago Police Department that put their lives on the line every single day.”
He’ll take over early next month. Shields said a top priority for him will be to make sure police officers’ pensions are funded properly his first goal. But he’s also focused on officer safety, saying the recent violent deaths of officers have affected morale.
“One of the number-one problems that we see is that officers during the late hours are actually working by themselves,” he said. “When you’re passing a squad car and you see only one Chicago police officer in that car … that is a safety factor. There should be two officers in that car. Manpower is a very huge issue for our department.”
Shields says he plans on meeting with the new police administration as well as Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel. Former police Supt. Terry Hillard is running the department as Emanuel seeks a replacement for Weis, who had a turbulent relationship with the FOP.
As a member of the police pension board, Shields recently voted in favor of allowing former Police Cmdr. Jon Burge to keep his pension. Burge last year was convicted of lying about the torture of suspects in custody.
Shields says Burge’s conviction centered on statements he made after he retired from the Chicago Police Department.
The current FOP president, Donahue, held that spot for three terms. But term limits kept him from running to keep that office.