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CPD says overtime not the reason officers fell asleep on the job

Two Chicago police officers sleeping in their vehicle.

Mayoral candidate Paul Vallas writes that he cannot comment directly on the two Chicago Police officers caught napping in a photo that went viral on social media. But the larger problem, he writes, is that assigning officers to work a great deal of overtime is not the best strategy for fighting crime in Chicago. | Facebook

Police overtime and the officer burnout excessive hours can trigger was not a factor in the embarrassing photograph-gone-viral of two Chicago Police officers fast sleep in a squadrol, officials said Tuesday.

One day after mayoral challenger Ja’Mal Green tied the dozing off to overtime fatigue, Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi ruled that out as the reason the two officers in Chicago Police Squadrol 6111 were sleeping on the job in the Deering District.

“We looked at the activity of both officers since July 1. One of them had zero hours of overtime accrued. The other one had eight hours accrued since July 1,” Guglielmi said.

“These officers were not on any type of overtime initiative. They were working the squadrol, which is the prisoner transport vehicle that night. … It was early, early Saturday morning, somewhere between 2 and 4 a.m.”

Although overtime burnout was not the cause, Guglielmi is not making light of the incident.

The Bureaus of Patrol and Internal Affairs are still investigating and, based on interviews, prior records and what CPD calls its “disciplinary matrix,” the snoozing officers face anywhere from a written reprimand to a three-day suspension, Guglielmi said.

“The reason why we’re coming down so sternly on this is because of the safety and welfare of the officers. An individual was able to get very close to that vehicle,” Guglielmi said.

“Fortunately, nothing bad happened. But they were put at risk by being in that position. Someone could have harmed them sitting in that car in that state. … We all saw the tragic story that happened in New York with Officer Familia, who wasn’t sleeping but was shot in a police vehicle.”

Gugleilmi was referring to the July 5 assassination of New York City Police Officer Miosotis Familia. The 48-year-old mother of three was shot in the head while sitting in a police vehicle in the Bronx by a man who was paroled in 2013 for a robbery after serving nearly seven years of an eight-year sentence.

The photo of the sleeping Chicago officers had been taken Saturday and posted by “Breed Stank” before “going super-viral,” as Green put it, and being sent to him by a supporter.

Facebook photos posted by Chicago mayoral challenger Ja'Mal Green

Mayoral challenger Ja’Mal Green posted photos on Facebook which he said showed two Chicago police officers sleeping in their vehicle. Green criticized excessive forced overtime and denials of time off for officers, saying: “They’re tired. That really messes them up mentally and physically. We have to make sure they get the rest and care they need.” | Facebook

Green posted it on his Facebook page as proof that Emanuel’s plan to flood the streets of Chicago’s five most violent districts with 600 additional weekend officers was neither wise nor sustainable.

“In light of all of the violence that happened last week, Rahm decided to deploy 600 MORE officers & make officers work overtime! This picture proves WHY that was a bad idea,” Green wrote on his Facebook page.

“Officers get fatigued, which will prevent them from reacting to crime. Militarizing communities does NOT reduce violence. That’s why I’m running for mayor because we need a REAL comprehensive plan to address violence that deals with economics / jobs, education, mental health, small businesses, affordable housing and more! #GOGREEN2019.”

Now that excessive overtime has been ruled out, the challenge will be to find out why the two officers both fell asleep at the same time.

“It’s not a frequent occurrence. I can’t remember the last time something like this has occurred. But we want to figure out why. Is there something going on in their personal lives? Were they tired? That’s at the heart of what Internal Affairs is gonna ask,” Guglielmi said.

“We have to look out for their welfare. Something could have happened to either one of them. We’re glad it did not. But, we have to also ensure that we don’t put our officers in position where they could be in harm’s way. The same goes for the public. Our job is to serve and protect the public. God forbid something had happened to a citizen and those officers didn’t observe it.”