CHICAGO — As members of City Council got the chance to scrutinize Mayor Brandon Johnson’s plans for Chicago police, questions about some officers’ ties to extremists hovered over the proceedings.
In opening comments to council members on Tuesday, Chicago police Supt. Larry Snelling addressed the simmering controversy.
“We will complete thorough investigations to make sure that we do not have members of hate groups amongst our Chicago Police Department,” Snelling said.
Snelling referred to bombshell reporting by the Chicago Sun-Times and others that found 27 current and former Chicago police officers appeared in a leaked roster for the Oath Keepers, an anti-government extremist group.
According to the report, at least nine officers are still on the force.
“It serves the Chicago Police Department in no way — in no way good — to have members amongst our department who are filled with bias or are members of hate groups and we will not tolerate it,” Snelling said.
Growing in prominence, the Oath Keepers recruits military and police professionals. The organization is known for plotting the Jan. 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol.
“What we plan to do is make a swift, thorough investigation into these allegations of the Oath Keepers,” said Chief Yollanda Talley.
This concern is not new. Last February, council members grilled the department about extremists in its ranks but so far officials have not taken action against the officers.
“What I’ve not seen so far that I would like to see is a policy,” said Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th Ward). “There is no policy right now that would say a police officer cannot be a member of a hate group.”
As for the proposed police budget, Johnson increased it by $91 million and added 400 new civilian positions. Last week, the mayor’s administration reached a tentative deal with the Fraternal Order of Police to raise officer salaries and provide retention bonuses.
“It’s early on in the process but I think overall people understand that there needs to be some level of change in how we deal with policing, so we get the maximum results for public safety for residents of the city,” said Ald. Jason Ervin (28th Ward).
While Mayor Johnson supports the pay raises in the contract, he does want City Council to reject an arbitrator’s ruling that would shield the most severe police disciplinary cases from the public.