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Times are looking tough for the officers of the Chicago Police Department (CPD), after the shocking number of officer retentions became public.
It hasn’t been easy for demonized police forces throughout the country, subject to abuse from their own officials and facing calls for defunding, as well as the frustration of being told not to prosecute crimes or even make arrests, even for repeat offenders. Vaccine mandates continue to be a contentious issue, with notable numbers of officers choosing to quit rather than comply with the mandate.
One of the departments that is showing the toll of all those factors is the CPD, as the recently released figures show the stark numbers of all that attrition: 900 officers lost in one year, with only 247 police academy graduates to replace them, according to an investigation by WGN9. From 13,000 officers in 2018, the department now has 11,845, while still having to service the same Chicago metro area, which has grown from 8,864,000 to 8,901,000 in that same period.
These numbers also do not point to the true toll of what was lost, since many of those were veteran officers with years of experience, whereas the incoming 247 officers are all fresh graduates without prior experience.
Most of these cops leaving the CPD have gone to smaller, suburban police forces, which now have the luxury of hiring a plethora of veteran cops who didn’t cost these smaller locales a dime to train at the academy (a police recruit is typically sponsored into a state police academy by a particular police department, which foots the bill).
Speaking in late 2021, Oak Brook Police Chief James Kruger commented on the lack of support that officers are feeling and how it fuels the exodus:
“I think it has more to do with support and really a feeling of being able to do the job.”
“There is a mass exodus,” agreed John Catanzara, president of the Fraternal Order of Police.
All this has had a predictable effect on crime, which has been steadily rising in the Windy City.
“When you look at it, it’s a recipe for disaster. And that’s what we’re seeing right now. It is why crime is escalating in the city of Chicago.” Alderman Anthony Beale (9th Ward) told WGN9 in October, as the full weight of the losses was being felt.
The city’s response to the increase in violent crime has largely been to plead with the feds, rather than do things to increase police hires and retention. Mayor Lori Lightfoot hasn’t backed down from her focus on the “root causes” of crime, which typically amounts to blaming racism and poverty without doing much. Lightfoot has, however, come around to criticizing lower courts for repeatedly re-releasing criminals back onto the streets, joining other city officials (but not “reformer” district attorneys) in complaining that many judges are too lenient with violent offenders.
Since there has been no plan put forward to actually rectify the attrition rate of officers in the CPD, it is unlikely that the situation will improve in the foreseeable future.
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