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"Union asks state to halt rebranding of Chicago airport cops assecurity"
Thursday, April 27, 2017
Union asks state to halt rebranding of Chicago airport cops as security
By Hal Dardick
The Chicago (IL) Tribune
The union representing Chicago's airport police officers moved Wednesday to
halt the city's effort to rebrand them as members of a security force - signs
of a battle that is emerging as aviation police are under internal review and
outside investigation in the wake of the United Airlines passenger dragging
Service Employees International Union Local 73, which represents 292 officers
who work at O'Hare International and Midway airports, filed an unfair labor
practice complaint with the Illinois Labor Relations Board. The union contended
the city is moving "to strip the aviation officers of their authority as
special police officers" and asked the board to order the city not to make any
changes to the officers' "duties or symbols of authority" until it gives the
union notice and "a full opportunity to bargain over proposed changes."
Union spokesman Adam Rosen said that without the word "police," airport users
won't understand the officers have full police powers. He said that Aviation
Department workers on Friday began replacing the word "police" on airport cars
used by officers with the word "security." Officers also were told changes may
be made to their badges, he said.
A carefully crafted statement from the Aviation Department said it is simply
"reinforcing our existing policies." Department "policy has long been clear
that while aviation security officers are an integral part of our airport
security and operations, that they do not have the same authority as sworn
Chicago Police officers," the statement said.
Whether they should be considered cops or security came up two weeks ago at a
City Council hearing looking into the April 9 incident, when an aviation
officer forcibly removed a bloodied Dr. David Dao of Kentucky from a United
plane to make way for an airline employee.
Ald. Edward Burke, 14th, noted the word "police" was on the back of the
officer's jacket and asked Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans if officers had
been told to instead identify as security. Evans said that order was
communicated in January.
Aviation officers are certified police officers, complete with Chicago Police
Academy training, and have all the powers of sworn Chicago Police Department
officers, the union contends. Aviation officers are not allowed to carry guns,
During the council hearing, city officials said aviation officers had the
authority to detain people, but it was up to Police Department officers to make
an arrest. Aldermen took pains during the hearing to call them security
officers, in a couple of instances correcting themselves after first calling
The Aviation Department is reviewing the United case. City Inspector General
Joseph Ferguson also is conducting an investigation that could result in
recommendations for discipline or firing of the officers involved. Three
aviation officers involved have been suspended, as has one sergeant, city
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