CPD’s overtime budget jumps to $47.1 million in June while murders, shootings skyrocket

The police department has spent $84.3 million, nearly its entire overtime budget for 2020, during the first six months of this year.

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Chicago police officers clash with hundreds of protesters outside a store that had been looted near East 71st Street and South Chappel Avenue in South Shore, Monday, June 1, 2020.

The Chicago Police Department spent more than $47.1 million on overtime in June and nearly doubled the $24.1 million spent during the same period a year ago.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times file photo

The Chicago Police Department spent more than $47.1 million on overtime in June as murders and shootings skyrocketed and demonstrations after the death of George Floyd devolved into looting and mayhem.

June overtime costs, released to the Chicago Sun-Times in response to a Freedom of Information request, nearly doubled the $24.1 million spent during the same period a year ago.

It means CPD has spent $84.3 million and nearly used up its overtime budget for 2020 during the first six months of the year.

Under pressure from Mayor Lori Lightfoot to reduce police overtime that ballooned to $139.5 million last year, Police Supt. David Brown ordered all overtime to be approved by deputy chiefs and above. It was one of his first official moves as superintendent.

Memorial Day weekend turned into a bloodbath with 10 people killed and 39 others shot and wounded.

When it was over, Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th), chairman of the City Council’s Committee on Public Safety, complained Brown had failed his first major test as superintendent because he was more concerned with cutting overtime than fighting violence.

Taliaferro claimed there were “hundreds” fewer officers on the street when there should have been at least as many as last year, maybe more, to “saturate” South and West side police districts plagued by gang and gun violence.

Four days later, demonstrations over Floyd’s death turned ugly, prompting Lightfoot to invoke a 9 p.m. curfew.

The next day, police officers’ days off were canceled. Bridges were raised, sealing off downtown with downtown expressway ramp closures enforced by the National Guard. That prompted looting and mayhem to spread into South and West side neighborhoods.

The overtime edict was out the window; police officers were required to work 12-hour days for weeks on end.

The June figure covers the last two weeks of May and the first two weeks of June. That means overtime in the July report, covering the last two weeks of June and the July Fourth weekend, could be even worse.

“Normally, we have a higher overtime for Memorial Day. And that level continued with the George Floyd protests and then the following week with another week of protests and with the looting and everything that was going on,” Budget Director Susie Park told the Sun-Times.

“This is something that we could not control. … New York’s overtime for that period was quadruple, I think. A lot of other cities during the protests that happened probably had similar police overtime costs.”

The stay-at-home shutdown triggered by the coronavirus has blown a $700 million hole in Lightfoot’s precariously balanced, 2020 budget.

Park refused to say whether the sky-high police overtime for the month of June would exacerbate that budget struggles.

She would only say city budget officials would “do the best we can for the rest of the year” to control the more routine forms of police overtime. She noted overtime spending during the month of May was $4.3 million, less than half of what it was during the same period a year ago.

“If we pull out the protest costs [and just focus on] the day-to-day stuff, this is really what Superintendent Brown was focused on. The protests were … all hands on deck. They pulled everybody they needed to operationally for that period of time,” Park said.

“What we’re gonna focus on is just on the day-to-day and how that gets managed. ... Not for these emergency situations where it is out of my control for sure. These are operational decisions that the superintendent has to make. But, on a day-to-day, that’s what we’re gonna focus on. On a normal day, where is overtime? Are the deputy chiefs and above approving it? That’s where we will continue to work for the rest of the year.”

Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara called the $47.1 million in overtime spending for the month of June a recipe for officer burnout.

“You had three weeks of canceled days off. You’re paying a lot of people a lot of money. They’re gonna do it again on Labor Day. Yet again, cancel both days off. This profession has turned into a job that most people don’t want,” Catanzara said.

“And they want to talk about officer wellness? Who the hell can have any sane family life when you can’t even have a holiday off after 30 years on this job?”

Catanzara said the saddest part of the overtime spending is that Chicago has little to show for it.

On May 30, six people were killed. Over a 24-hour period on May 31, 18 more people were killed. It was Chicago’s deadliest day in at least 30 years.

“You’re not enforcing any laws. All you’re doing is putting bodies out there,” he said.

Catanzara predicted a wave of police retirements fueled by anti-police sentiment and abuse and demands to defund police departments in Chicago and across the nation.

“We’re averaging about 100 now a month. … It’s coming. People are constantly asking, calling the lodge about what their options are and how to go about handling it. They’re more concerned than ever about weighing the pros and cons of retiring — sooner, rather than later,” he said.

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