A Chicago police union official is criticizing a $31 million settlement for four African-American men whose murder convictions were overturned, calling the wrongful conviction movement “a cottage industry” that uses taxpayers as a blank check in pricey settlements, the Chicago Tribune reports. Fraternal Order of Police Vice President Martin Preib spoke to the City Council Finance Committee meeting, where aldermen approved the money for the four men who each spent 15 years in prison for a 1994 rape and murder before DNA linked the crime to a convicted killer. City attorney Jane Elinor Notz said that two police detectives who allegedly played a part in making the case against the “Englewood Four” in 1995 are now the subject of an investigation by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability.
Notz said that of the nine detectives named in the wrongful conviction lawsuit, two remain on the force. Preib said, “What is happening in this city is that the civil rights lawyers have carved out a cottage industry in the name of wrongful convictions … Their playbook is simple: they claim police misconduct, get the prosecutors to exonerate, draft a willing media and then manipulate the citizens of Chicago out of their tax money.” Preib’s remarks came as Mayor Rahm Emanuel is in negotiations with the police union on a new contract. The mayor wants the FOP to make concessions that will make it easier to hold officers accountable for wrongdoing as he seeks to show results in his police reform effort. Emanuel also has been trying to demonstrate he supports rank-and-file officers, whose buy-in he needs to try to combat the city’s persistently high violent crime numbers.