Chicago has a police problem. If you say that to any Black Lives Matter activists, liberal Democrats, or Mayor Lori Lightfoot, they will say ‘of course they do!’ But they’ll be referring to allegations of abusive behavior by the police. That’s not the “police problem” the city is currently facing, however. The Windy City is very much understaffed in terms of uniformed officers being available to patrol the city. And to make matters worse, they simply aren’t finding enough qualified applicants to enroll in the Police Academy to replenish their ranks. Given that Chicago is now officialy the carjacking capital of the world (stealing the title from Newark), that’s a problem. And CBS Chicago is reporting that it’s only expected to get far worse before it gets better.
Chicago police officers aren’t only retiring in record numbers, many are leaving the big city department for smaller ones.
It’s contributing to an officer shortage that many city leaders believe will only get worse before it gets better.
CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov talked with one ex-officer about the decision to get out of Chicago.
“I think that you have to take care of yourself first,” said the former officer, who asked to remain anonymous.
The officers that CBS spoke to all complained of the same issues that drove them to leave and either seek retirement or find work in more suburban or rural areas. There was too much mandatory overtime, too many canceled days off, and the pay wasn’t nearly high enough to make all of the hassle worthwhile in a city with a high cost of living. That has quickly turned into a vicious cycle because as more officers leave, the need for extra shifts increases, driving even more of them out the door.
But the other factor that made almost all of the departing police reconsider their career path was the lack of respect they received and the lack of support from City Hall. That lack of respect is reflected in the streets, where criminals and activists are more inclined to spit on the cops than offer them a greeting.
This has led to a condition of crisis according to City Alderman Anthony Beale. “People don’t want to be the police. The police don’t want to be the police,” Beale said.
City Hall claims that Chicago expects to be short 908 police officers at the end of the year. But Beale says that figure is a bookkeeping trick. They eliminated more than 600 Chicago PD positions in the 2021 budget. So in reality, they are now nearly 1,600 police officers below their 2020 staffing levels. Chicago is a big city with a large police force, but you can’t lose more than 1,500 officers and get the same amount of work done without massively increasing the burden on all of the remaining officers.
In any other line of work, when there is a shortage of workers, the industry would begin offering higher wages and better benefits to attract more qualified individuals. But when it comes to far too many liberal city governments, their response to the police crisis has been the opposite. They’ve slashed budgets and eliminated positions. How was the result Chicago is currently experiencing not entirely predictable?
There are currently fewer than 100 people entering or going through the Police Academy. On average, barely half of them will finish the entire program, pass all of the background checks, and finally be sworn in and ready to take the oath. That’s not nearly enough to even make up for the anticipated retirements and resignations. Meanwhile, the gangs of Chicago are running wild and many people are afraid to leave their homes at night and drive in their cars, to say nothing of walking the streets. For the past couple of years, plenty of liberal activists in Chicago were demanding the city abolish the police. Now they’re getting a taste of what that would really look like. I hope they’re enjoying it.
As for all of the police who are still mulling over their future, I’ll offer a short bit of advice. Flee the cities. Come out to the suburbs or the country. We can always use more cops, and there are still plenty of people out here who will show you the respect you deserve. Leave Chicago, Minneapolis, Baltimore, and the rest of those cities to the gangs. It’s what the politicians seemed to have wanted anyway.