The Chicago police department is experiencing a shortage, currently down to nearly 1,600 officers. The department is engaged in a nationwide campaign to try and entice potential officers into joining the force. Chicago city leaders believe the problem is going to get increasingly worse before it gets better.
Officers are currently retiring in record numbers, and those who are not retiring are transferring to smaller city departments.
CBS2 Chicago cites burnout, long hours, low pay, and mandatory overtime as reasons for the shortage.
One anonymous officer said, “I knew I was just going to be put in worse working situations and conditions from there on because they were going to be short-staffed; and the department and the people who run it, the politicians, they thought that that was an okay situation for officers to be in.”
Alderman Anthony Beale added, “People don’t want to be the police. The police don’t want to be the police.” Beale told the outlet that the staffing situation is much worse than the city lets on.
By July 31 of this year, 640 officers submitted their retirement paperwork. Budget Director Susie Parks anticipates the attrition rates to hit 725 officers by the end of the year. The Chicago Sun Times reported, “The department is struggling to fill 1,066 vacancies — 877 of them among sworn officers. The other 189 are civilian positions.”
This is after Mayor Lightfoot eliminated 614 police vacancies to balance her 2021 budget. Beale noted that with the vacancies, the city is actually down to 1,600 officers. The city’s training academy will conduct monthly classes from October through December and all of next year.
With the tense political climate and demonization of police, there are not many people willing to apply. According to Daily Wire, Police Supt David Brown said, “About 5,000 people have applied to Chicago’s police academy this year, compared to around 30,000 in years past.” Beale believes there are less than 100 cadets currently in the academy. Beale said, “By the time you get people to take the test, pass the test, go through the background check, and get into the academy, by then we’re into 2023 going into 2024.”
WBEZ reported that Chicago is currently experiencing a crime surge with Chicago murders, “Outpacing any year in a quarter-century.” Almost 800 people have been murdered in the past 12 months alone. Unofficial counts state that over 3,000 people have been shot, with over 600 killed.