CHICAGO (CBS) – Chicago police officers say they are being pushed beyond their limits with their days off and vacation canceled.
Now the superintendent of police. David Brown is making changes aimed at giving agents more time off.
As CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar reported on Tuesday night, it comes after a report from the Chicago Inspector General found that in April and May nearly 1,200 officers were scheduled to work 11 consecutive days.
Many of their records show compulsorily canceled vacation days. The inspector general pointed out that the department’s record keeping makes it difficult to determine whether officers actually worked all those days.
For months, we’ve heard from agents and their families about the impact of the constant cancellation of agent days off.
We know three officers died by suicide in July alone – and the superintendent regularly speaks about the importance of mental health. But a psychologist De Mar spoke to on Tuesday said the changes Brown announced don’t go far enough.
Violence was high and at times tensions were even higher between the police and the community – and there was a shortage of police. Thus, the base of the CPD was asked to devote hours.
“It’s paying lip service to them saying, ‘We care about the welfare of the officers,'” said Dr. Carrie Steiner, a licensed clinical psychologist.
Dr. Steiner was once Officer Steiner. She served the CPD for over a decade.
Now she is a psychologist who works with first responders and specializes in trauma therapy.
“You just don’t set up Chicago police officers for success — or the citizens of Chicago — by not giving them a few days off,” Steiner said.
The practice of canceled days off has recently been the focus of city leaders – as well as Ryan Clancy, the brother of Officer Patricia Swank.
Officer Swank committed suicide in July.
“I hope we all know now that the sanity is real and that our officers are both exhausted and overworked,” Clancy said July 20.
Clancy said earlier this summer that in the days and weeks leading up to the 29-year-old officer’s death on July 2, Swank had worked 22 straight days and 12-hour shifts had become the norm.
“Working long hours with canceled days off – when was she supposed to get help?” Clancy said July 20.
The Chicago Police Department responded that the report lacked context and that during this time the city had experienced hundreds of events.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot agreed things had to change.
“We know we need to make sure there’s a process by which officers have time off,” Lightfoot said. “Tired, emotional officers are no good for themselves, no good for their families, and no good, frankly, for the members of the community they serve.”
On Tuesday, CPD Superintendent David Brown said that effective immediately, officers will have no more than one canceled requested day off per week, except during holidays.
They will also have a minimum of nine hours between shifts.
“It’s still not acceptable. It doesn’t prioritize the mental health of officers,” Steiner said, “and you’re going to have more problems, and you’re going to have more accidents; more incidents of use of force.”
Officers will have two consecutive rest days in each policy period.
Aldus. Matt O’Shea (19th) introduced an order to address the furlough issue within the department. He called the superintendent’s policy change an important first step.