SWAT stand-off ends with city demanding cash from Chicago police


CHICAGO — A legal stand-off between members of the Chicago police department’s SWAT team and the city has ended with Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration demanding the officers who sued the city hand over cash.

“It’s 100% vindictive,” Chicago police detective Bob Bartlett said. 

Bartlett spent 15 years on the department’s SWAT team and grew frustrated by constantly being on-call without compensation.  Bartlett, along with nearly 100 other current and former team members, filed a federal lawsuit claiming the city was violating federal labor standards and Illinois wage laws by not paying them for time they spent working but were unpaid.

WGN Investigates first reported on the dispute in 2018 when SWAT officers began refusing to answer calls during their off-duty hours. Now that a judge has dismissed the lawsuit – and allowed for the city to recoup its legal fees in the case – Lightfoot’s law department is sending letters to the officers involved in the case demanding they each pay $185 to defray the nearly $19,000 legal cost. The letters threaten to increase the amount owed and turn the matter over to a collections agency if cops don’t comply by November 11.

“Am I surprised?  In this day and age, not anymore,” Bartlett said. 

He said he and other SWAT officers are now appealing to alderpersons to stop the mayor’s move and even considering raising the money owed via a GoFundMe page.  

“We were fighting for our labor rights in a city that’s a labor city and you guys are punishing us,” Bartlett said. 

Lightfoot denied knowing about the case when asked Wednesday. 

“I haven’t read it so the lawyer in me tells me to actually read the judge’s order before I react to it,” she said. 

A spokesperson for the city’s law department said the plaintiffs did not file an objection to the judge’s decision allowing legal costs to be recovered. 

“In lawsuits brought under the Federal Labors Standard Act litigation costs may be recoverable to the prevailing party,” city spokesperson Kristen Cabanban wrote in an emailed statement.

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