Chicago Police Department staffing impacting community and officer safety, independent monitor finds

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The group monitoring court-ordered police reforms in Chicago cited a "high number of vacancies" at the Chicago Police Department impacting community safety and officer safety.

The latest report card on police reforms issued Friday also came with a startling statistic: more Chicago police officers retired in the first six months of this year than all of 2018.

Between January and June of 2021, Chicago police saw 363 officers leave the department. The losses include Chicago's Deputy Chief at the Bureau of Crime Control, at a time when police struggle to get crime under control with carjackings, shootings and murders all up.

Friday's status update on how Chicago police reforms calls out the high number of police vacancies "which ultimately impact officer safety, community safety, and the CPD'S ability to meet the unity of command and span of control requirements set out in the Consent Decree."

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In other words, gaps in staffing are among the many reasons cited in the nearly 1,000-page report that CPD has so far complied with only about half of court-ordered reforms.

"I don't know about you, but if I failed at 50% of my assignments when I was in school, I didn't get a very good grade," said Ed Yohnka, ACLU Chicago. "And I think, you know, the city can make attempts to spin this in a number of different ways, but this just shows that there just has not been a commitment to real police reform, yet, and the clock is ticking."

"Let me set the context of vacancies attrition. From the department we normally have an attrition rate between 4% and 5%," said CPD Supt. David Brown. "This year we're tracking slightly above 6%."

In a department budgeted for more than 13,000 officers, Brown knows that a few percentage points amounts to a significant number of officers they could use, but don't have -- especially as violence stats soar.

"With three months to go, obviously attrition, we're not seeing the double-digit attrition that other departments are seeing across the country, we don't, we're not seeing the 20% attrition that other departments are seeing. But we are taking our vacancy seriously," Brown said.

Earlier this week, Brown said CPD was struggling to recruit for open slots with 1,000 vacancies now and a little more than half the number of required applicants to take the test. Now, the city's first dedicated recruiting team is going to job fairs, city colleges and military bases in an effort to find a diverse contingent that will be the next to serve and protect Chicago.
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