The weekend crime, as reported by the Chicago Sun-Times, is up from last weekend with 56 shootings, 11 of those being fatalities. Last weekend was the lowest number of shootings all summer, but this weekend seemed to go back up to the average level for summer weekends over the last two years. Mayor Lightfoot continues to field criticism regarding her new gun tip line among other things. Although yesterday in a victory for police reform, the creation of a civilian oversight board will finally see the floor of the city council for a vote on the 21st.
As far as media coverage from this weekend goes, I chose to analyze a national piece from WBEZ looking at the morale of CPD officers. The article published Monday by Patrick Smith interviews multiple officers who say that this is the lowest morale and most overworked police office they’ve ever seen. What is very interesting in this article is the lack of coverage of some officers’ complaints that the real issue is leadership, with no mention of union leader Catanzara, and only one mention of David Brown. Two people who have a lot of impact on their day to day work life. The article states that “The sergeant, like the nearly 10 Chicago police officers from different parts of the city interviewed for this story, spoke on the condition of anonymity. They fear getting in trouble for speaking candidly about the Police Department and CPD leadership.”It makes sense that being afraid to even speak out about the Police Superintendent and Union leader Catanzara could add to a more toxic workplace.
The main narrative that the right wing media has been constantly peddling for the last couple years is that the reason police officers are so fed up and crime is skyrocketing is because of “Defund the Police” movements. In reality, very little has changed, especially in Lightfoot’s Chicago, in which the police budget was cut only 3% from last year largely by eliminating empty positions.
Only one of the officers interviewed echoed this sentiment saying he thought Lighfoot thinks of them like “We don’t like you. We want to defund you. We want to give you the worst equipment. But yet still, you got to jump into what we say when we feel like it and you have no choice in the matter.’” It would be interesting to see how much this officer believes Lightfoot “Defunded the Police”.
A seemingly more fair critique from an officer came with some ironic points. One of the officers sentiments were summed up in the article as follows: “It’s a common complaint from officers, who feel that on their extra days at work they are being deployed without any real plan, sent to guard the bean sculpture downtown for no apparent reason, dispatched to neighborhoods they know nothing about or ordered to do traffic enforcement on foot.” It’s unsurprising that with the public so upset with Superintendent David Brown you can only imagine how upset officers are with his up and down leadership. The officers have already issued a vote of no confidence in him. This same officer said that when they were deployed on overtime to guard the Puerto Rican day parade he stated “We were out there… And you know what? I think that made things worse.” This sounds eerily similar to proponents of defunding the police who say that officers really don’t stop shootings.
Wrapping up the article was talking about the mental health of officers, which is obviously a good thing to talk about and normalize. It was reassuring to hear that more CPD officers are reaching out more often for therapeutic services. After all, trauma is cyclical and hard to break from all sides, nobody would wish it on their worst enemies to see as much violence as some of these officers do.