The Chicago Police Department has canceled officers’ days off this weekend as the Fraternal Order of Police blamed COVID-19 for a staffing shortage.
A department order handed down Wednesday canceled one day off for any officer who has a regular day of this weekend or on some shifts Friday or Monday.
The FOP, which represents rank-and-file officers, estimates 21% of the police force — about 2,600 officers — are on medical leave, with COVID-19 being the driving factor.
The number of officers on medical leave at any one time before the pandemic averaged about 1,000, according to the union.
The department has about 12,000 officers.
The department didn’t respond directly to questions about how many officers are on leave because of COVID-19 or the numbers shared by the FOP but stated: “5,888 CPD members have tested positive since the beginning of the pandemic. The vast majority have returned to duty.”
The police department also didn’t explain why days off were canceled this weekend.
A police source said some officers welcome a positive COVID-19 test result and the required time off because of the department‘s canceling or restricting days off and instituting mandatory 12-hour shifts.
The department is also facing more retirements than usual. It had 893 retirements in 2021, according to the police union. There were 560 retirements in all of 2020, 475 in 2019 and 339 in 2018.
In last month’s issue of the FOP’s official magazine, Officer Michael Carroll penned a column about the importance of honoring the time officers are promised away from the job.
“Canceling regular days off without warning and without a clear reason as to why those days are canceled does not give our members the respect and courtesy they deserve,” Carroll wrote.
“It does not account for our officers’ families, does not account for our children who again and again ask if we will be home to take them to basketball, take them to Girl Scouts or be with them when we pick out a Christmas tree ... canceling days off can directly affect an officer’s mental health and well-being.”