Chicago, IL – Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot claimed on Wednesday that Chicago police officers are not overworked and have “an incredible amount” of time off under their union contract.
Lightfoot made the remarks right after the Chicago City Council voted to provide a death benefit to the spouses of Chicago police officers who commit suicide, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Chicago Alderman Matt O’Shea sponsored the legislation and talked about the hardships faced by police officers, including repeatedly having their days off cancelled due to staffing shortages.
The Chicago Police Department (CPD) had 13,263 officers in June of 2019, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Now the city is down to only 11,638 officers just two years later.
The mayor told reporters that Chicago police officers are not overworked, despite the fact that Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown has repeatedly extended daily shifts to 12 hours and cancelled days off since the riots that erupted after the death of George Floyd in the custody of the Minneapolis police on May 25, 2020, the Chicago Tribune reported.
But Lightfoot disputed what she called “the narrative” that Chicago police officers are overworked.
She claimed officers “are given notice ahead of time when days [off] are going to be canceled,” the Chicago Tribune reported.
Most recently, officers were notified to cancel vacation plans because they had to work for Memorial Day weekend, Father’s Day, and July 4th.
“In addition, obviously there are some times when there may be an emergency and a day off has to be canceled or because of a particular circumstances in a particular geographic area, there may be a reason to hold people over their tour for a couple of hours,” Lightfoot explained.
“But what I would also say is, you should figure out and look at the incredible amount of furlough days, personal days, and other things that officers have by contract,” the mayor continued.
“So 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,” Lightfoot told reporters.
She said CPD has done everything possible to make life easier for officers, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The mayor said she understood “there’s a lot of stress and strain on being a police officer, part of that is inherent in the job but… the department has taken extraordinary steps to try to ease that burden on individual officers and their families particularly during what I think, as I said before, is probably the most difficult time to be the police.”
Mayor Lori Lightfoot vigorously defended her administration’s handling of police officer days off, says they get notice and have “incredible amount” of furlough days and other time off. Disputes that they’re being “worked like mules,” comment she attributed to @FOP7Chicago prez pic.twitter.com/wIV7ruCb9r
— Gregory Pratt (@royalpratt) June 22, 2022
Police spouses were quick to correct the record after Lightfoot made those statements, the Chicago Tribune reported.
“I don’t tweet much, but the audacity of this mayor to outright lie is unbelievable!” Chicago police wife Lisa Carroll tweeted on June 22.
“My husband hasn’t had a day off in 11 days because he continues to be canceled, same for our neighbors, same across the board!!” Carroll wrote angrily.
“A few hours?!? My husband worked 10 hours on his day off yesterday,” she added.
The Chicago Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) released a statement that said the city’s habit of cancelling days off was harming officers’ well-being and was unsustainable, the Chicago Tribune reported.
“Fact: cops are burnt out, they are not getting that needed time off, and they absolutely don’t have enough support from this mayor or superintendent. Period,” Chicago FOP President John Catanzara said.
The police union issued a symbolic vote of “no confidence” in May of 2021 against Lightfoot, Superintendent Brown and Chicago Police First Deputy Superintendent Eric Carter for reasons that included cancelling days off and holding officers over for hours after the end of their shifts, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Lightfoot’s remarks about officers’ schedules came as she faces a re-election bid fraught with accusations that the mayor has become too pro-police.