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Did The Police Union Head Really Just Defend A Code Of Silence?

By Stephen Gossett in News on Dec 7, 2016 3:26PM

The head of the Chicago Police Union acknowledges and appears to defend the existence and practice of a code of silence among Chicago police in a new Al Jazeera documentary video.

“There’s a code of silence everywhere,” FOP President Dean Aneglo says after the interviewer asks if such a code exists within the department. “Everybody has it.”

Angelo then pivots to how the Catholic Church engaged in a code of silence during the child-abuse scandal.

“But that doesn’t make it right,” the interviewer responds. “That makes it very wrong.”

“No, but why would this profession be any different?” Angelo says.

When asked if it needs to change, Angelo seems to defend the practice. “I don’t think anybody in this day and age, anybody that does anything that jeopardizes the livelihood of their job for their family to stand up for somebody that they know is doing something they shouldn’t be doing, is silly,” Angelo says.

The 25-minute film, produced by documentary series Fault Lines and called The Contract: Chicago’s Police Union, explores via the lens of the Laquan McDonald case how the Chicago police union contract is written in a way that undermines safety and hampers police accountability.

Adam Gross of the oversight working group, who also appears in the film, says the mandatory “cooling off” period written into the contract allows officers to collude; and journalist Jamie Kalven, of Invisible Institute appears in the film to argue against the rule that police misconduct records only need to be retained between 5 and 7 years.

In the clip, Angelo also questions the importance of keeping such records for further lengths. “I’m not sure about the value on old complaints,” he says.

Angelo did not immediately return requests for comment.

Later in the film, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is seen moving hurriedly away from the filmmakers when asked at a groundbreaking ceremony if he'll renegotiate the contract "that your own task force says institutionalize a code of silence," as the interviewer phrases. "We'll deal with that," Emanuel says, stepping away.

The full documentary can be seen above and on Fault Lines’ website. Angelo's interview portion begins at 18:45.