No issues resolved during first meeting between police chief and union
Over the past couple of weeks, Springfield Police Chief Kenny Winslow's leadership has come into question.
Unit #5 of the Police Benevolent and Protective Association of Illinois is the union representing a majority of Springfield's police officers. The union released a poll two weeks ago, showing that only nine percent of voting members had confidence in Winslow's ability to lead the department. The poll included 82% of the department, which is about 180 officers.
The police union and Chief Winslow agreed to meet after the officers' concerning evaluation of the chief came out. The first meeting happened on Monday, November 6th.
Newschannel 20' Esther Kwon spoke with Unit #5's Union President Sergeant Grant Barksdale about the meeting.
The group that met included Chief Winslow, SPD leadership, Mayor Jim Langfelder, the police union, and attorneys. Sergeant Barksdale said he hopes this is a wake-up call to city leaders. "We want to see change, not just talk. We want to see results, things getting done," he said.
Sergeant Barksdale said nothing was resolved at the first meeting between the group, and he's left asking a lot of questions. "Are they going to change? Are we going to get results? Are they going to start following the contracts, speaking with us frequently?" he asked.
Barksdale said at the meeting, he went through the list of issues police officers have with Chief Winslow, and made it clear what they want. "Communication with the staff, a change in morale, not violating the labor agreements, speaking with us ahead of time on issues to maybe to prevent some of these things," he explained.
When Newschannel 20 reached out to Mayor Langfelder and Chief Winslow, both declined to comment on camera. However, Mayor Langfelder sent a statement saying,
"Chief Winslow, his Command Staff and I appreciated the opportunity to sit down with the Union to listen to their concerns. We look forward to meeting with Union leadership on a regular basis to improve processes. As stated previously, we all value and respect the hardworking men and women of the Springfield Police Department. Their well-being and the safety of our community is everyone’s top priorities. Again, our citizens can be assured that the Springfield Police Department will continue to serve the needs of the entire Springfield community to the best of our ability."
The sergeant said the meeting was casual, that there wasn't much tension and he felt free to speak his mind. He said, "I don't know what other actions we could take, but I think if nothing comes out of this and nothing changes, it comes to catastrophic failure."
Going forward, Chief Winslow will meet with union leadership once a month until they resolve their issues.
Sergeant Barksdale said he feels indifferent but hopeful that things can change.
Chief Winslow has been the Springfield Police Department's Chief for four years and has been with the department for about 20 years.