CHICAGO (CBS) — The fallout continues from surveillance photos showing 13 Chicago police officers hanging out at U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush’s South Side campaign office while looters tore apart the strip mall outside. Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she plans to use the “embarrassment” to demand reforms.
One proposal is licensing police officers. It is not a new proposal. Illinois already has a certification system in place, but police accountability and use of force experts say it is one of the weakest in the country.
“If you sleep during a riot, what do you do during a regular shift when there’s no riot?” asked Chicago Police Department Supt. David Brown.
Video from outside the campaign office shot by CBS 2 around 4:30 that morning shows another seven officers were standing outside the front doors in full riot gear.
“I’m done,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said about the issue.
Most of the businesses are still boarded up nearly two weeks later. Lightfoot is using the incident as a platform, calling for police officers across the state to be licensed.
Experts who study police accountability are in agreement.
“Illinois does have a police certification law already,” said Craig Futterman, professor of law at the University of Chicago. “It is also one of the weakest laws in the nation.”
“You can only be decertified for the most serious things imaginable,” said University of Pittsburgh law professor David A. Harris.
Right now officers can be decertified due to a felony or a serious misdemeanor, but the state legislature would have to amend the process to also include allegations of misconduct.
“This falls within relatively low hanging fruit,” said Futterman.
Lightfoot’s second promise is delivering a police contract that makes it easier to discipline officers.
“Contrary to any kind of basic investigation, parts of the police contract that prohibit interviewing police officers promptly after after an officer shoots and kills someone or is accused of misconduct,” Futterman said.
“Some or all of those provisions would either come out of the current contract or not be included in the next one,” said Harris. “That will be a difficult struggle, I predict.”
A spokesperson for the FOP said Friday, in part, that the photos were a “preplanned Hollywood production of nonsense” and Lightfoot is using the incident try to garner support in Springfield for licensing of police officers.
CBS 2 reached out to the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and a spokesperson said, “All of the details about the potential for licensing still need to be worked out. I think everybody is concerned about bad cops, and if we can find ways to remove obstacles to firing bad cops, our communities would be better off.”