The Fraternal Order of Police is furious — and exploring its “legal options” — in response to a proposal to change the starting times for officers across the city to rein in runaway overtime and reduce down time between shifts.
The sweeping proposal, though, has been “rescinded temporarily,” according to Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.
Other sources said a recent memo from CPD brass outlining the changes was held up for “legal issues” tied to command and control matters outlined by the consent decree and that the shift changes “will happen.”
The broad nature of the “modified roll call procedures” outlined by Chief of Patrol Fred Waller in an Oct. 2 memo to deputy chiefs and district commanders was enough to open a new front in Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s ongoing battle with the FOP.
Under the current schedule, most patrol officers start their shifts at 10 p.m., 6 a.m. or 2 p.m.
Under the new schedule, patrol officers assigned to the first watch would have early roll call at 10 p.m. and late roll call at 11 p.m., with duty hours until 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. the next day, Waller wrote.
Roll calls for second-watch officers would be at 6 a.m. and 7 a.m., with duty hours until 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Third-watch officers’ roll calls would be at 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Their duty hours would last until 11 p.m. and 12:01 a.m.
Roll calls would include a 45-minute briefing by the watch lieutenant and personnel from the district’s Strategic Decision Support Center. Uniform and weapons inspections, and occasional training sessions, would also take place during that time.
At the end of each shift, there’d be a designated 15-minute period to talk with officers relieving them on the beat and go over “crime trends, current hot spots or points of special attention, and any other relevant information which would not have previously been passed on.”
Additionally, each beat would be assigned a single vehicle across all shifts in an effort to foster “accountability amongst the officers who are assigned to that beat,” Waller said.
On Friday, FOP President Kevin Graham unleashed his anger in a letter to members on the union’s blog.
“Late yesterday, the command staff issued a directive changing the start times for officers all over the city, a change made without consultation with the FOP that disrupts the lives and family schedules of officers throughout the city. Officers [who] have already seen their days off canceled throughout the entire summer,” Graham wrote.
“Despite the constant disregard for the well being of our officers, the city continues to push one harassing, unjustified policy after another in the name of accountability and transparency. … We are meeting with the city this morning about the scheduling change and exploring our legal options.”
The Chicago Sun-Times reported last month that CPD spent $67.6 million on overtime through the first six months of this year despite a 10-year high in manpower and an all-time high in technology.
Lightfoot responded by saying she was “angry and frustrated” about runaway overtime in the department and plans to hold Supt. Eddie Johnson personally accountable for reining in an abuse that beleaguered Chicago taxpayers “can’t afford.”
The overtime surge angered Inspector General Joe Ferguson, who concluded nearly two years ago that Chicago was wasting millions on police overtime because of “inefficient management” that failed to control costs, eliminate fraud or prevent officer fatigue.
Ferguson said Monday he doesn’t know all of the particulars of Waller’s memo, but there is a real need to “tighten the hand-off” between shifts to reduce overtime and minimize wasted time.
“It includes the fact that a car is assigned to a specific beat so that there can be a hand off of a car from beat to beat to beat and there isn’t this, ‘Where’s a car for me? Oh, it went out to another beat team,’” Ferguson said.
“Those sorts of tightening of measures then allow for less excuses for why people are sitting around and waiting at the end of their shift, waiting at the beginning of their shift. It’s all about tightening control so that there’s real accountability.”
Lightfoot is a former Police Board president who co-chaired the Task Force on Police Accountability whose scathing indictment of CPD after the police shooting of Laquan McDonald laid the groundwork for the U.S. Justice Department to do the same.
That set the stage for the consent decree outlining the terms of federal court oversight over the CPD.
Lightfoot has been on a collision course with the FOP ever since.
“The command staff and the mayor better wake up,” Graham wrote. “They cannot continue to treat the officers and their elected representatives with such disregard and contempt.”
Officers’ morale, he added is “at an all-time low.”