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Chicago Top Cop Botches Findings Of Inspector General’s Report, Defends Cancelling Days Off

Chicago, IL – Chicago police officers were already furious about forced overtime and cancelled days off before the city’s inspector general released a report this week that showed at least 10 percent of the police force had been ordered to work 11 consecutive days or more in April and May to cover the city’s shortfall of officers.

The Chicago Police Department is currently down 2,000 officers from where it should be for regular staffing after a wave of retirements and resignations that began after the George Floyd riots, WGN reported.

Chicago Inspector General Deborah Witzburg said her report only considered the months leading up to the summer, before holiday weekends, events, and a spike in crime resulted in even more cancelled days off.

The inspector general’s report released this week showed complaints about overworking by frustrated officers were not overstated, and that at least 10 percent of the department workforce was suffering, WGN reported.

Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown pushed back at the reports and appeared to misunderstand the inspector general’s findings when asked about them by reporters.

“There was one-thousand scheduled but the IG’s report said five or six actually worked beyond the ten days – that’s in the report,” Superintendent Brown explained.

However, Witzburg explained her findings to WGN in a follow-up interview and the inspector general said the top cop appeared to be confused by the numbers in her report, WGN reported.

“Certainly not all” of the officers worked eleven or more consecutive days, “and certainly more than five or six,” Witzburg said.

“We’d like to say more – and more definitively – but the fact of the matter is we can’t – and nobody can – because of the state of the data and how it’s stored,” the inspector general told WGN.

The report said the “state of CPD’s records around scheduling data and work histories renders a thorough and timely analysis of consecutive days worked cumbersome and difficult.”

Superintendent Brown later put out a statement defending the practice of cancelling days off, WGN reported.

“1,190 officers were scheduled to work more than 11 consecutive days, but OIG acknowledges that not all of those officers scheduled to work actually worked 11 consecutive days,” the statement read. “While the Department acknowledges It’s important to balance days off and public safety… this group of individuals who may have worked more than 11 consecutive days represents approximately 10% of the total number of sworn officers employed by CPD.”

Chicago Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) President John Catanzara was incensed by the superintendent’s apparent ignorance.

“He’s either clueless or willingly and complicity lying to everyone,” Catanzara said.

The police union has pointed the finger at the mayor and police brass for the spike in officers’ suicides over the past four years, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

There have been 10 suicides on the Chicago police force since 2018, and three of them were this July.

Union officials have warned of the impact the lack of time off was having on the mental health of the rank-and-file in the department, WGN reported.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s fourth deputy mayor for public safety, Elena Gottreich, told local lawmakers last week not to believe everything they see on social media, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

“The days off canceled has been pared down significantly. There were obviously an extra amount of days off canceled throughout this last spring and summer period. That has been scaled back,” Gottreich told the alderpersons at a matter hearing on officer wellness on Aug. 25.

“A lot of those reports were incorrect. While people did work several days in a row, that has been scaled back,” she insisted.

When an alderman challenged what the overwhelming workload was doing to officers’ mental health, the deputy mayor took umbrage, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

“If you want anybody to say here that canceling days off causes suicide, that’s categorically untrue. And frankly, it’s a little bit offensive to talk about mental health in that context,” Gottreich said.

In June, Lightfoot claimed officers were not being overworked, WGN reported.

“This notion — I think the infamous head of the FOP has said as part of his campaign: ‘They’re being worked like mules,’ it’s just simply not correct,” the mayor told the Chicago Tribune.

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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