Moonlighting Chicago Police officers to continue providing security at CHA projects

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Moonlighting Chicago Police officers will continue to secure designated public housing developments, under a $6 million inter-governmental agreement authorized Tuesday between the city and the Chicago Housing Authority.

Chicago Police officers have been supplementing their incomes by securing CHA buildings since October, 1999, when the CHA disbanded its own police department.

The new agreement, advanced by the City Council’s Budget Committee, calls for roughly 23 officers-a-day to work overtime on their days off at four developments, including ABLA Homes, Park Place, Altgelt Gardens and Westhaven.

Before signing off on the agreement, several aldermen noted that the Chicago Police Department racked up nearly $100 million in overtime last year on a so-called “Violence Reduction Initiative” in 20 high-crime areas.

They wondered how moonlighting officers are selected, how much overtime was too much and whether moonlighting officers burning the candle at both ends might burn out.

“Can you explain, in terms of the people who are already working overtime in the Police Department—either on V.R.I. or some other program—how this falls into play with those officers who are already doing OT. Are you going down a list? How are those officers being selected to work overtime at CHA?” said Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd).

Frank Wilson, director of the police finance division, said the Chicago Police Department has “a number of overtime initiatives” and “this is another one.” Officers sign up to work the CHA on a specific day and they’re chosen on the basis of seniority, he said.

Waguespack said, “Are they working V.R.I. one week and CHA the next?”

Wilson replied, “Potentially, but there are some restrictions put into the system to make sure they’re not working constantly.”

Downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) wondered how many officers were applying for overtime duty and being denied.

“It’s my understanding that there are a lot of newer officers in the department, typically younger officers, who are eager for this work. But, because they lack seniority, they can’t qualify when more senior officers are bidding for this work,” Reilly said.

Wilson said there are “other programs,” including at the CTA, that do include younger officers.

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