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On Tuesday, 110 Chicago Police recruits will graduate from the police academy. On Wednesday, they will be assigned to “Safe Passage” routes.
Fraternal Order of Police President Mike Shields has a problem with that.
“When recruits graduate from the academy, they historically go through three, four-week cycles with a field training officer. Now, they’re sending them right out on the street with no field experience with a seasoned veteran whatsoever,” Shields said.
“No superintendent of the Chicago Police Department has done this in 40 years. It’s an alarming safety issue for these young guys on the street and for the other police officers who will have to rush to their aid if something happens.”
Police Department spokesman Adam Collins countered that the decision to bypass the field training regimen was “nothing new….The Chicago Police Department has sent probationary police officers on special assignments like this for decades.”
He added, “These officers have completed their six months of training at the academy and are ready to hit the beat upon graduation.” The Police Department’s 110 newest graduates “will go through field training in the near future,” Collins said.
According to Shields, Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy started cutting back on the field training regimen a few months ago by assigning probationary police officers to North Michigan Ave. after just one, four-week cycle with a field training officer.
The goal was to stop a troubling return of mob attacks that threaten to disrupt business along Chicago’s marquee shopping district.
But, Shields said the 110 recruits assigned to Safe Passage routes will mark the first time probationary police officers are being put on the street with zero training with a seasoned officer.
“We’ve addressed this to the Police Department and we’re waiting for them to respond with some type of order,” the FOP president said.
Ever since Emanuel took office, Shields has been crusading for the hiring of more Chicago Police officers to ease, what the FOP calls a severe manpower shortage.
The mayor has responded by picking up the pace of police hiring. But, the police academy is still only churning out enough recruits to keep pace with retirements.
On Monday, Shields blamed the “manpower crunch” and skyrocketing police overtime for the decision to throw rookie officers to the wolves.
“There’s no doubt that having these young guys doing Safe Passage is all about cost savings. But, it comes at the pricetag of officer safety,” he said.