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EDITORIAL: The lessons in a photo of two Chicago cops asleep on the job

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

Two cops napping.

What more is there to say?

In the photo above, we see two Chicago police officers who are putting their safety at risk. Just as easily as somebody walked up and took this photo, somebody else could have done the officers harm.

It was only last month that an officer in New York, Miosotis Familia, was shot and killed by a man who strode up to her police vehicle and shot her through a window. Officer Familia was killed just for being a cop.


We see two officers who have embarrassed the Chicago Police Department. A photo of two cops sleeping on the job, posted all over social media, is not good for the department’s image.

What else do we see? Not much. Not without knowing a few facts first, though that hasn’t stopped others from jumping to conclusions.

Ja’Mal Green, a candidate for mayor who posted the image on his Facebook page, says the photo is proof positive that Chicago cops are burned out from working too much overtime.

Paul Vallas, another mayoral challenger, told the Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman that even more than the snoozing cops, a recent weekend of particularly heavy violence shows that CPD’s “unrelenting overtime strategy” is not working.

Here’s our problem with that: The photo, as it turns out, says nothing of the sort.

At the time the photo was taken, about 4 a.m. on Saturday on the Southwest Side, one of the two officers had worked only eight hours of overtime since July 1, according to CPD. The other officer had worked no overtime at all since July 1.

If the two cops were tired, it wasn’t from working OT.

The real takeaway from this photograph, as we see it, is that things have a way of being politicized way too quickly in Chicago, especially when there’s an election coming. We would all do well to take a breath.

CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi says the two officers — who were manning a squadrol that transports people arrested by other officers — will be disciplined. Cops, even if just waiting for their next call, are not supposed to sleep on the job.

“Officer safety is really our primary concern,” Guglielmi told us, “and if the officers are overworked, we want to look into this as well.”

Maybe the two cops are real loafers. Or maybe, especially if they have family responsibilities, they just couldn’t get enough sleep when the sun was up.

Anybody who has ever worked a graveyard shift knows the problem.

We could say more, but we’ll take a breath.

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