Police burnout? Photo goes viral of CPD officers snoozing on the job

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Mayoral candidate Paul Vallas writes that he cannot comment directly on the two Chicago Police officers caught napping in a photo that went viral on social media. But the larger problem, he writes, is that assigning officers to work a great deal of overtime is not the best strategy for fighting crime in Chicago. | Facebook

Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson has promised that Chicago’s five most violent police districts will continue to get 600 additional weekend officers “until we’re comfortable things are stabilized.”

Fraternal Order of Police President Kevin Graham has warned of burnout by officers whose requests to take time off have been refused.

Now, there may be photographic evidence to support the officer burnout argument.

It comes in the form of a photograph posted on the Facebook page of mayoral challenger Ja’Mal Green.

It shows Chicago Police Squadrol 6111 with two officers in the front seat, both fast asleep. The driver is a woman. The officer in the passenger seat is a man.

“In light of all of the violence that happened last week, Rahm decided to deploy 600 MORE officers & make officers work overtime! This picture proves WHY that was a bad idea,” Green wrote on his Facebook page.

“Officers get fatigued, which will prevent them from reacting to crime. Militarizing communities does NOT reduce violence. That’s why I’m running for mayor because we need a REAL comprehensive plan to address violence that deals with economics / jobs, education, mental health, small businesses, affordable housing and more! #GOGREEN2019”

Green said the photo was taken “a couple of days ago” and posted by “Breed Stank” before “going super-viral” and being sent to him by a supporter. He’s still trying to find out where the officers were at the time and what they were supposed to be doing when they dozed off.

But Green said the photo is proof positive that the costly surge of police overtime used to tamp down the violence after a weekend that saw 71 people shot, 12 of them dead, is not only unsustainable but also downright dangerous.

“We’re talking about deploying 400-to-600 officers. Taking away their days off. Making them work. That’s not the answer. Officers are fatigued. We’v got to start talking about the health of our police officers who are on the street, all day, every day on overtime in our neighborhoods,” Green said Monday.

“We can’t continue to overwork police officers. It ends up in a situation where police officers can’t do their official duties. They’re tired. That really messes them up mentally and physically. We have to make sure they get the rest and care they need. With the trauma they see on the streets every day, the mental health issue is real.”

Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said CPD “became aware” of the embarassing photo of the snoozing cops over the weekend. The Bureaus of Patrol and Internal Affairs promptly opened an investigation.

“Officers will face discipline,” Guglielmi wrote in an email.

Last weekend, Chicago managed to make it through another hot summer weekend without a single homicide.

This weekend, there were 57 people shot and wounded, five of them dead.

If moonlighting officers are not the answer, Green was asked what is?

“The answer is a real, comprehensive plan attacking the root causes of violence. I’m talking about education, wellness centers, mental health and creating jobs. Not over-working officers and putting them in a situation where they can’t get any sleep,” Green said.

Green isn’t the only mayoral challenger sounding the alarm about requiring officers to work overtime in Chicago’s five most violent districts.

Former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas said even more than the photo of snoozing cops, weekend violence “shows that the Chicago Police Department’s unrelenting overtime strategy for officers simply is not working” and that there is “no substitute for increasing police strength including the supervisory and detectives ranks.”

“In the meantime, Chicago should do what other cities like Dallas, Denver and even London have done, rehire retired police officers to help deal with our public safety crisis,” said Vallas, who has promised to increase police strength to 14,000 sworn officers.

Former Police Board President Lori Lightfoot has called the surge a costly and unsustainable “recipe for disaster.”

“We’re gonna have this big surge of officers who are gonna come into these districts. Officers who are not familiar with these districts, who don’t know the stakeholders, don’t know the nuances. That’s potentially a recipe for disaster,” Lightfoot told the Chicago Sun-Times days after the weekend bloodbath that generated headline around the world.

“We’re going to continue to ask our officers, who themselves are stressed out, to work more overtime.”

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