Democrats

Chicago Mayor Blames Union for City’s Lack of Police Oversight

Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot (D.) said that the city's police union obstructs any attempts to reform police practices and address racism in the department.

"They blocked body cameras, they blocked the taking of anonymous complaints, they block civilian oversight at every level," Lightfoot told NBC in an interview that aired Thursday. "What the union does is it grieves [sic] and obstructs. Every progressive and important thing that's necessary, mandated by the consent decree, they try to block."

She said John Catanzara, the recently elected head of Chicago's police union, "has his head in the sand" after Catanzara pushed back on claims that racism is a problem in the Chicago police department.

Lightfoot's criticism of the police department comes in the midst of heightened tensions between the police unions and the Chicago mayor's office. Catanzara told NBC that calls for police reform are "demoralizing" and denied that racism is a problem in the department.

Father's Day weekend saw a scourge of violent crime hit Chicago. The city experienced its highest number of shootings so far this year, as 104 people were shot and 15 people died, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. The 15 deaths included five children.

After the violence that took place over the weekend, calls for mass police "sick-outs" have spread. Lightfoot pushed back on the possibility that large portions of the police department could call out sick as a protest against police reform. She told ABC7 Chicago that the idea was "stupid" and "the height of dereliction of duty."

Lightfoot has also clashed with the Chicago Teachers Union over reopening schools in the fall. The union went on strike last October before a collective-bargaining agreement was reached. Now, the union is accusing the mayor's office and public school system of not guaranteeing access to personal protective equipment or clean facilities to school staff.