Members of the Fraternal Order of Police said they appreciated Chico's roots in the community and his promises to provide them the resources they need to do their jobs.
In an answer to a question about the police department’s manpower shortage, Chico promised to hire an additional 2,000 police officers. Rahm Emanuel only bid 1000. Miguel del Valle and Carol Moseley Braun both neglected to name a figure.
That’s why Chico was at FOP headquarters Wednesday afternoon, receiving the endorsement of the 11,000-member union. Chico also gave answers the police wanted to hear on the residency requirement and the city’s pension obligations.
"Nobody knows Chicago like Gery Chico and nobody understands how to address the challenges that face our city," said Mark Donahue, the president of the FOP.
Apparently polling for the group was split evenly between Chico and Emanuel, but Chico's position on pensions tipped the scale in his favor. His favoring of negotiating residency rules helped, too.
"I will always welcome any group’s right to negotiate a matter that impacts their members," Chico wrote on his endorsement questionnaire. "The residency rule for Chicago Police is no exception."
Emanuel also indicated he would be open to discussing residency, but del Valle and Moseley Braun gave flat-out nos.
"I am the daughter, niece and sister of Chicago police officers whose Chicago residency has been an important asset for the entire city," Moseley Braun wrote.
As for pension obligations, Chico promised to look for the money to fund officers’ retirements.
"Retired workers should have a right to rely on the pensions they have earned," he wrote. "If we can identify a dedicated funding stream that makes sense for taxpayers and city residents, that stream should be used to support agreements made with our police officers."Rahm Emanuel? "The current pension system is unsustainable."
The FOP endorsement is a coup for Chico. Unions fill the role once played by political machines, providing a ready army of precinct workers to knock on doors and hand out palm cards. Gov. Pat Quinn won his election with the help of unions who were assured that he would raise taxes before he cut their wages and benefits. Chico appears to have made the same accommodation with the Chicago FOP.
Read questionnaires here: