NEAR WEST SIDE — A union that represents University of Illinois at Chicago police officers is lashing out at the university, saying last week's canceled Trump rally put officers and attendees in danger.
In the three-page letter signed by the Metropolitan Alliance of Police 381's board, the union alleges that UIC Police Chief Kevin Booker and other university leaders did not develop a contingency plan in case riots broke out and did not have riot gear readily available for officers.
"We are very concerned by the lack of preparation for and questionable decisions made during this event, which expresses to us a complete disregard for our safety," MAP 381 President Anthony Robinson wrote in the letter, which was first reported by ABC-7 News.
The letter claimed Booker "stayed far away from the actual event."
The union also claims:
• Officers were ordered to leave their pepper spray in their lockers, leaving batons and handguns as their only available tools.
• Officers were told not to place their hands on anyone, even when escorting hostile attendees.
• Officers were not allowed to wear dark-colored gloves that offered protection from cuts, blood and spit
• The three arrested individuals later were ordered released, creating a significant liability for officers.
"As a result, any officer involved in the arrests of these individuals is now exposed to the possibility of a lawsuit for doing exactly what they were told to do," union officials said in the letter.
"We feel that, at every single turn, what we, your officers, needed to perform our job safely and to the best of our abilities was disregarded and ignored. By allowing this, it also placed each and every attendee, student, and VIP in unnecessary danger as we could not provide the appropriate level of protection and safety they deserved," the letter stated.
UIC officials deny the union's claims. In a statement, UIC officials said that officers on scene had appropriate training, authorized use of force and protective equipment available to them at all times. It said Booker was on site during the rally.
UIC said that the use of pepper spray could have presented a hazardous situation for attendees, that riot gear was available if needed, and that UIC Police never were told not to wear, gloves; they were only told that dark gloves look aggressive.
"UIC Police were never told not to place hands on anyone — those instructions were only given to event security and Trump campaign security," UIC officials said.
UIC Police were "fully prepared" to handle security during the Trump event and coordinated meetings in advance with Chicago Police, State Police, U.S. Secret Service and campaign and protest organizers, officials said.
"The posture and tactics employed by UIC Police resulted in no injuries and few arrests inside the pavilion and an orderly exit of large crowds following the abrupt cancellation of the event," the statement reads. "The UIC Police Department was not consulted before the cancellation and UICPD did not recommend that the campaign cancel the event."
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