After writing a letter explaining his decision, Chicago Police Officer Julius Givens spoke to NBC 5 about why he decided to terminate his membership with the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7.
Givens, a rookie officer on the force, penned the open letter this week, and after its publication, he’s elaborating on his decision to leave the union.
“It did take some conviction. My former union is one of the most powerful in the country,” he said. “I’m happy with the decision. I have no regrets.”
Givens cited several recent incidents that didn’t sit well on his conscience, including a pair that involved the FOP’s new President John Catanzara.
In the letter, Givens quoted the union leader’s stance on officers kneeling during protests, saying that any officer that did so would face discipline, including expulsion.
He also cited an interview where Catanzara called out parents and blamed a lack of jail time for an increase of violence in the city.
“I finally said this does not represent me in any capacity. It’s time to move on,” Givens said.
With his decision, Givens may be the only officer out of some 12,000 Chicago police officers not represented by one of the largest police unions in the country.
“In this moment, it made the most sense,” he said. “You’ve got folks day in and day out crying for some type of reassurance that our moral compass aligns with ours.
Since he published his open letter describing his decision, Givens says he’s received thousands of emails, texts and messages from citizens and other officers, and says most of them have been supportive of his actions.
“I had a sergeant call me and say this is the most courageous act he’d ever seen in his entire career,” Givens said. “This assures me I was moving in the right direction.”
While Givens says he only speaks for himself, and not for any other officers in the union, he does hope that his stand will help inspire others to be better police officers.
“We have got to get to what it should be across the country: community policing,” he said. “The citizens are the police, and the police are citizens.”
Givens did say he hasn’t ruled out rejoining the union in the future.
“I met with the union president and his team, and we had a brief conversation, and that possibility remains,” he said. “There would have to be some changes, of course.”