A videotape of Chicago Police officer Anthony Abbate pummeling a diminutive female bartender has been played around the world. The Chicago Sun-Times says the Fraternal Order of Police is making an attempt to counter that ugly image — at least in the local media market. The FOP has hired a Florida company to produce a television commercial that portrays its members in a positive light — as coaches, block club and Boy Scout leaders, and valuable assets to their neighborhoods. The 30-second spot has been on the air for the last three weeks and will run 40 times over a one-month period on WMAQ-TV Channel 5. If the union gets enough positive feedback, it might make a bigger television buy that includes even more stations.
FOP President Mark Donahue said he never thought the union would have to buy time to get a fair shake for its members. But desperate times require desperate measures, he said. “It’s unfair that the image of members of the Chicago Police Department has been tarnished the way it has. The board felt we should do something about it  because of the way we’ve been getting beat up in the media,” Donahue said. The Independent Police Review Authority recommended that the Abbate be fired, and Police Superintendent Jody Weis agreed. Weis said it was impossible to calculate the damage Abbate’s bullying behavior inflicted on the Police Department’s image around the world. “The action was horrific. It flies in the face of every law enforcement officer.  That’s all everybody has seen on TV for, probably, the past six-to-eight months. It’s over and over and over again. It’s having a horrible effect upon morale. Officers are looking at that, and that’s what they view the American public — actually the world public — thinks of the Chicago Police Department.”