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Chicago Dispatcher Calls City A ‘Death Zone,’ Blames Mayor For Micromanaging First Responders

Chicago, IL – A Chicago police dispatcher who was widely praised for his handling of the radio the night Chicago Police Officers Ella French and Carlos Yanez were shot blasted the police commissioner in a social media post on Christmas Eve.

Chicago Emergency Dispatcher Keith Thornton posted a video to his personal Facebook page on Dec. 24 during which he accused Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown of having lied at a recent community meeting, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Superintendent Brown told residents of the 16th District that their district had plenty of officers.

The 16th District covers 33 square miles of the city and is much larger than any of the other 22 districts, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

But Thornton said it doesn’t have proportionally more officers than its much smaller counterparts.

In fact, he ranted that on Dec. 23, nine of the 14 police units in the 16th District were out of service, WLS reported.

“It’s outrageous and I’m not happy,” Thornton said. “The ones that are white are the ones that have beat cars. The ones that are scratched out, they’re down. So you have no police coming.”

He pointed to the long line of police vehicles parked at the 16th District as proof of the staffing shortage, WLS reported.

“When I’m getting text messages from officers telling me that they’re afraid for their safety because they’re working by themselves and then the beat next to them, to back them up, isn’t there because the cars are down, that’s a problem. That’s a safety concern,” the dispatcher explained in his video.

The dispatcher, who is a former Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officer, cited statistics that showed there were no active patrol cars assigned to many beats in the district, and most that were available only had one officer, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

“If you are a Chicagoan, living here or doing business here, even just visiting as a tourist here, your safety is compromised and in jeopardy,” Thornton said.

On Tuesday, the dispatcher gained a nationwide audience with an appearance on FOX News during which he said Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot was micromanaging Chicago police, firefighters, and dispatchers, and doing a terrible job at it.

“The blood, in my opinion, is on her hands,” Thornton said.

He said that during former President Donald Trump’s administration, Chicago was offered federal help to get the skyrocketing crime problem under control but that Lightfoot didn’t acknowledge or want it, FOX News reported.

“This is not a black problem, a white problem, a Democratic problem, a Republican problem, a Latino problem, this is an all-hands-on-deck problem and everyone within Chicago should be fueled up—and that’s why I’m taking a stand,” Thornton explained.

“All hell has broken loose,” he told FOX News.

The dispatcher said a “massive” amount of crime was happening in Chicago at “all hours of the day.”

At the same time, Thornton said first responders were being overworked and but getting no support from city leadership, FOX News reported.

“What’s horrible is the lack of leadership and the failure of leadership throughout this entire city of Chicago—and it’s ridiculous because it does not have to be this way,” he opined.

In his Facebook video, Thornton called Chicago a “death zone.”

“When you say ‘Chicago,’ people are afraid,” he said.

Thornton got some support from local lawmakers after his rant went public, WLS reported.

“I know there is a COVID outbreak out there,” 38th Ward Ald. Nicholas Sposato, one of seven aldermen who represent the 16th District, said. “I know they’re down about 70 between COVID, duty layoffs, non-duty layoffs and no-pay status. So that’s above and beyond the officers we’ve lost in the last, I’m going to say two months.”

“We’ve lost eight officers I would guess… We want more bodies over here. We want more officers…. I do not want to see one man cars out there. I know sometimes things happen, but it happens too often and it’s too regular of a basis,” Sposato said.

Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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Written by Sandy Malone


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