Retirees, volunteers pitch in to help active Chicago police officers working long hours

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Sandy Walter is on vacation right now, taking time off from the Chicago Police Department, which gives her time to help with dog walking chores for a fellow officer who is working a mandatory 12-hour shift with no days off.

"It's nice because everybody comes together to help make sure everything's covered," said Walter.

Walter volunteered her time through a Facebook group, Operation Homefront, set up to help officers take care of errands while they're forced to work extra hours.

It was formed by a group of retired officers including former Detective Chief Eugene Roy.

"These officers are tired and still have things to take care of at home," said Roy.

The department enacted the long shifts and cancelled days off in anticipation of a spike in crime on the anniversary of the murder of George Floyd and Memorial Day weekend.

CPD Superintendent David Brown said in a news conference Monday, "Better to prepare for the worst than not be prepared."

But police union officials said they're concerned officers are getting burned out by the long hours.

"Numerous studies show it impairs you mentally and physically," said Jim Calvino, president of the Sergeants Association.

The head of The Fraternal Order of Police has filed a union grievance over the issue.

"It's just ridiculous, it never ends. None of these officers can have a social life, a family life," said F.O.P. President John Catanzara.

Meantime volunteers like Sandy Walter are trying to help, even bringing refreshments to police districts.

Just five days after putting out the call for help, nearly 1,000 people have volunteered. And as the first week nears an end, officers said they are grateful for the help.
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