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CHICAGO -- Chicago Police detectives -- other than those assigned to the FBI's violent crimes task force -- will no longer respond to bank robberies in Chicago, under a policy change unveiled this week that rankled the police union.
Fraternal Order of Police President Mark Donahue said morale among rank-and-file officers is already at "a very low point," and it won't get any better if career-FBI agent-turned Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis hands off police duties to his former FBI colleagues.
"Our members are a little confused by what message is being sent. What's the reason for it? These are our jobs. You're cutting back on our responsibilities," Donahue said.
"Bank robbery is a federal offense. But our guys are the ones who work it. A concern has been brought forth from our membership that this could potentially happen in other areas in the future."
Police Department spokeswoman Monique Bond said the change was made to avoid "duplication" and free up detectives to solve homicides and other violent crimes.
The bank robbery change is likely to be added to the beefs raised by the rank-and-file at a series of closed-door gripe sessions with Weis.
"I just want to have an open dialogue with the officers. There's a lot of misinformation -- and I don't know where it's originated from. But it gives them a chance to ask me questions straight up. And I can talk to them about my philosophies, my vision," Weis said.
Weis said he prides himself on not reading a police blog that derisively refers to him as "J-Fed" and pokes fun at his policies. But he said, "People tell me some of the stuff that's on there."
Donahue, who attended a forum last week, applauded Weis for opening himself up to face-to-face criticism after wholesale command and deployment changes, disciplinary actions, and physical fitness mandates that have ruffled feathers.
"Morale is at a very low point right now. . . . This is an opportunity to bring complaints to the head of the class," he said.