BACK IN THE DAYS when police labor relations were marked by the infamous handshake agreement’ school of negotiations, John J. Flood, founder end President of the Combined Counties Police Association, taught his fellow police that they could win what they wanted by organizing and standing up for their rights.

Back in those early days of the police labor movement (it’s only 20 years measured by the calendar, but a lifetime measured by the improved benefits), Flood was considered a controversial troublemaker by those who held the decision-making power over police in Northern Illinois. Today, he is considered a labor statesman of the first order.

Flood started his police career as a just �out-of-the-Army Patrol Officer with the Wheeling Police Department. At the unusually early age of 23, Flood was handpicked by then-Sheriff Richard Ogilvie to help rebuild the Cook County Police Department. Under Ogilvie, Flood served as Supervisor in charge of Detectives in Northern Cook Co, Supervisor in Charge of Vice, and distinguished himself with a series of successful arrests of major organized crime figures of that early ’60s era.

At the time, Flood’s attention-getting busts drew the praise and recognition of the Chicago Crime Commission. He was cited in the Commission’s Annual Report publications for his work in going after organized crime figures and bringing them, sometimes literally kicking and screaming ,into court.

While still in his twenties, Flood became widely recognized as an authority on organized crime, its members and its insidious activities. But John Flood’s greatest accomplishments came in the arena of organized labor. After his mentor in the Sheriff’s Department, Richard Ogilvie, went on to become Governor, Flood and a handful of fellow police set up a fledgling group then known as the Cook County Police Association. Working from humble offices and virtually around the clock, they pressed demands for police rights of a sort that were simply unheard of in the State of Illinois at that time.

Flood taught his fellow officers the art of confrontation, negotiation, militant action where necessary, and reconciliation. Incredibly, the successes of the group mounted up one after another and police contracts were being signed that brought unheard-of benefits to law enforcement work. Obviously, there were setbacks and frustrations along the way but overall, CCPA and its members distinguished themselves by winning considerably more than they lost.

A fellow officer, and a veteran of the early CCPA showdowns recalls of Flood, “It’s almost like he freed us from slavery.”

In person, Flood is an imposing figure. He carries a football lineman-size body on a 6-foot, 4-inch frame, and moves with an athletic grace. At age.; 50, he has a silver-gray mane of hair’ matched to piercing green eyes and a ready smile. He exudes a warmth and a toughness that both friends and foes find disarming.

Flood is a family man who continually worked to develop strong desires in his children to succeed both academically and professionally and to be loyal to their friends. Flood is himself born of a police family, with deep roots on his father’s side, a 30-year detective in the New York Police Department.

HE IS BRIGHT, well-read, articulate, quick thinking and, even today, the kind of nonconformist who is not afraid to bring new solutions to old problems. 

The Flood family