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CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago Police officers have had their days off canceled – with the possibility of 12-hour shifts on the table – as we head into Memorial Day weekend.
Days of for all officers were canceled for full-duty sworn members beginning this past Tuesday. This will remain in place until Tuesday, May 31.
This comes as a staffing shortage impacts how the department tackles crime in the city.
CBS 2’s Tara Molina got her hands on the numbers involved with the CPD staffing shortage and brought them to a security expert. Molina learned more than 750 officers have left the department since this time last year – and that is on top of what was already considered a shortage.
The CPD is budgeted for more than 1,300 officers than it has right now – and crime is a major concern in the city lately. From fatal shootings downtown, to increasing violence on Chicago Transit Authority property and new city curfews and restrictions, we’ve tracked it all closely at CBS 2.
But beyond the yellow tape and flashing lights are numbers telling another part of Chicago’s crime story – those 753 officers who have left the police department since this time last year.
Through public records requests and follow-ups to Chicago Police, we got a better picture of the shortage. For example, the CPD is budgeted for 13,176 officers and has 11,652 right now. As of this time a year ago, there were 12,405.
There have been 214 officers hired so far this year, but hiring numbers were double or more pre-pandemic. More than 1,200 officers were hired back in 2018.
There is no figure available for officers who have retired or resigned so far this year.
Meanwhile, according to Chicago Police, there are 296 academy recruits right now – with a new class of about 85 to 90 starting June 1. They are not making up for the numbers lost quite yet.
“These are trends that we need to start addressing now. What it means, they’re only going to be worse five and six months from now,” said security expert Phil Andrew. “Recruiting new police officers, replenishing the ranks, needs to be a priority.”
Andrew has decades of experience as a member of the FBI. He said the shortage has real implications in Chicago.
“It immediately has impact on those individual units that can’t be fully staffed, and it puts the city in a position where it needs to play a shell game with where they’re to deploy their now more limited police force,” he said.
Andrew called the plans heading into this weekend demonstrative of why the staffing issue is concerning – for more reason than one.
“The first thing we do to try to make up the lack of staffing is go to 12-hour shifts and no days off – and having unrested officers that are not caring for the own wellbeing is really, really difficult,” he said.
Ald. Matt O’Shea (19th) just introduced an ordinance to try to incentivize police officers to move to Chicago – saying in a statement the stress of canceled days off and continued departures are only adding to the crisis:
“The number is determined during the City’s budgeting process which happens each fall. Through that process CPD and all departments present a budget that represents what they feel they need for the following year in terms of personnel and other funding.
“Aside from the obvious, one of the most important impacts of this is an increased reliance on overtime, and cancelled days off. Voluntary overtime is something that I do not have a problem with. However, at this point officers are burned out from the mandatory extra shifts and often times 12 hour days. It’s not reasonable to expect people to work this much. Officers and their families tell many stories about missed graduations, family parties, special events etc. If we had more officers, we wouldn’t be so reliant on cancelled days off and our officers would get the break they need from a very stressful job. The cancelled days off increase stress on officers which causes more and more of them to leave the force. This departure only adds to staffing crisis.
“Increased stress is also a factor in a profession that already has problems with mental health and wellness.
“This shortage is what lead me to introduce my ordinance this week creating financial incentives for officer recruitment and retention.”