Page 18 - FOP May 2019 Magazine
P. 18

A notification from COPA
Maybe you are about to start your tour at roll call
Legal Report
en your sergeant hands you the notification. Maybe you check the computer system and see you have been notified. It really doesn’t matter how you find out — the end result
The next thing you need to do is to look at the documents they have tendered to you. If you are accused of something, it will be on the documents. If you have not been ac- cused, then you are being asked to go to COPA merely as a witness. Your next decision is the easiest and most important: you have to contact the FOP. The FOP will give you an attorney who will call you within hours. Be ready for that call, look up the event number, get the re- ports and read them. The attorneys at the FOP fence with the children of COPA every day and will explain to you what to ex- pect and show you how you will survive this annoyance. This is a serious situation and not to be taken lightly, but the FOP
will get you through it.
Know your rights. Look at the contract and general orders.
Your rights have been fought for and bargained for over many years. They are there to ensure that a person who has never worked a tour will not try to judge you and take advantage of you. A new tactic by the COPA cabal is to bring you down as a witness, and then after the statement present you with alle- gations. That is why you should not go it alone and why you should have an attorney with you. Many times, COPA has al- ready spoken to your fellow officers, and the lawyers will know this and know the direction of the investigation. This experi- ence will appear daunting and will seem like your every action is scrutinized and questioned. Unfortunately, your actions are being judged and questioned, but there are right answers to the questions posed and you will be prepared to give the cor- rect answer to avoid any harsh consequences. Your Lodge is behind you, and 95 percent of you will get through this with- out a scratch. That is why you pay dues, and that is why there is a legal defense available to you.
Experience has proven that most COPA investigators start out believing that all Chicago Police Officers wake up in the morning looking to violate a general order. But after spending time with the same citizens you encounter on daily basis, even the most ardent haters learn that the members of the Chicago Police Department believe in serving and protecting. That you do in fact work under horrible conditions, are asked to engage with the worst our city has to offer, and do the job without asking for much — just to be treated fairly.
So when you get that notification, always remember that you are the good guy, the truth is on your side and your frater- nal brothers and sisters stand behind you. As Benjamin Frank- lin said at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, “We must indeed all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”
is the same. You have received the dreaded notification ordering you to make yourself available for a statement at the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA).
Your mind will immediately race, and it will bring you to some very bad places. What did I do wrong? Why do they want to talk to me? Am I going to lose my job? I have a mortgage, a family and pension.
What do you do when you get that notification? The first thing you should do is take a deep breath. You are going to be ok. Remember that anybody can file a complaint against you. More likely than not, you have done nothing wrong, and this will be quite apparent when you explain your actions. Even though you are the good guy and right is on your side, you still feel anxious.
       TIM GRACE
 18 CHICAGO LODGE 7 ■ MAY 2019

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