Chicago police union: Checkpoints conflict with COVID-19 guidance

"It puts an undue danger on the officers. I’m not one to shy away from police work, but at this particular time, it doesn’t seem like it’s a reasonable thing to do”


Peter Nickeas
Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — Chicago police continue to set up checkpoints throughout the city both to remind people about the statewide stay-at-home order during the coronavirus outbreak and to “show a strong police presence” in areas hit by violence.

A department memo obtained by the Tribune calls them “seat belt safety and informational” checkpoints, and adds that the “goal of this mission is to engage the community in a positive and informative manner while providing a visible police presence in areas affected by violence."

The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 raised concerns over the newly-implemented checkpoints that put officers in close contact with citizens. (Photo/CPD)
The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 raised concerns over the newly-implemented checkpoints that put officers in close contact with citizens. (Photo/CPD)

The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7, which represents rank-and-file police officers, said the checkpoints conflict with the union’s guidance that officers “only be engaged with the public when you have to."

“We do not need unnecessary exposure,” said FOP Lodge 7 President Kevin Graham.

He acknowledged the department was responding to an uptick in shootings, but said it’s unlikely the checkpoints would act as a deterrent because those engaged in violence would try to avoid a checkpoint.

“Usually people are on their way home from work. There are still people out there providing necessary functions. Who are the people we’re stopping then?" he asked. "Are we stopping some poor nurse on her way home after a 12-hour shift? Or are we stopping a hardened criminal?

“I think most people just want to get home. I think most people don’t want any interaction with anybody. It puts an undue danger on the officers," Graham said. “I’m not one to shy away from police work, but at this particular time, it doesn’t seem like it’s a reasonable thing to do.”

The American Civil Liberties Union said it, too, was worried that the checkpoints would unnecessarily expose both officers and the public to the virus.

“Enforcing two dozen check points each day across the city creates a risk of further spreading the coronavirus to members of the CPD and to residents — many of whom want to social distance while traveling to essential work, like grocery store workers and health care providers,” the ACLU said in a statement.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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