How long will Chicago police float on their official sea of love?
For the last couple of days, Chicagoans have sung their praises, the people and the big shots too, saying the police did a great job handling the protesters during the NATO summit.
They did do a remarkable job. The cops I spoke with didn't like everything about what happened. They weren't exactly crazy about the protester with the fishing pole and the doughnut as bait. But in the end, who doesn't like being recognized for a job well done?
If there's one group that knows Chicago isn't Happy Land, it is the police. They understand the ancient law applied by emperors to their guards and by mayors to their cops: The hand that pets you now can just as easily haul off and crack you in the mouth.
When City Hall is done basking in the reflected glory of a relatively violence-free NATO summit, the cops who made sure the city wasn't embarrassed most likely will be repaid. And not with candy and nuts. Labor negotiations will begin, and police worry that their paychecks will be squeezed and their pensions cut.
We can't think of any way to leverage the praise and thanks heaped upon the Department into something that leads to a fair shake at the bargaining table. All Rahm has to do is delay a few meetings as in years past and the collective memory of the public will fade - the summer body count rises, the economy continues to stutter, gas prices fluctuate, the November elections approach, and like-it-or-not, someone will do something stupid.