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Community, Legal Groups Call For Big Changes In Chicago Police Union Contracts

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A coalition of community and legal groups is calling for changes in Chicago Police Union contracts. They say those contracts make it easier for misconduct to exist.

Tanya Watkins leads Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation, just one of the groups in a coalition that includes the Better Government Association and American Civil Liberties Union. She said Police Union contracts, which expire this year, work against true police reform. WBBM's Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports.

"We believe that the contracts make it too hard to identify police misconduct, make it too easy for officers to lie about misconduct, require officials to ignore evidence of misconduct..." Watkins said.

Attorney Lindsay Miller with the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois said, for example, the city should not agree to the police contract provision that prohibits anonymous complaints of police conduct and requires sworn statements from victims.

"Many Chicago residents are distrustful of the police disciplinary system that has protected police for too long. These individuals rightly fear signing an affidavit that could lead to a potential perjury charge," Miller said.

But Fraternal Order of Police President, Kevin Graham said an accused officer should have the right to know who's accusing him.

"If we don't have that, then you are going to have some many officers being accused falsely, just so we can move them around," Graham said.

He said the union contracts are only trying to protect officers rights and allow them to defend themselves.

"We certainly would not want to take civil rights away from everyday citizens, we should not be taking rights away from police officers to be treated fairly. And that is all this is," Graham said.

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