CPD BUDGET BLUES
Police force spent $47M-plus on overtime in June amid civil unrest and skyrocketing gun violence, nearly exhausting its entire 2020 OT allotment in just six months
The Chicago Police Department spent more than $47.1 million on overtime in June as murders and shootings skyrocketed and demonstrations after the death of George Floyd devolved into looting and mayhem.
June overtime costs, released to the Chicago Sun-Times in response to a Freedom of Information request, nearly doubled the $24.1 million spent during the same period a year ago.
It means CPD has spent $84.3 million and nearly used up its overtime budget for 2020 during the first six months of the year.
Under pressure from Mayor Lori Lightfoot to reduce police overtime that ballooned to $139.5 million last year, Police Supt. David Brown ordered all overtime to be approved by deputy chiefs and above. It was one of his first official moves as superintendent.
Memorial Day weekend turned into a bloodbath with 10 people killed and 39 others shot and wounded.
When it was over, Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th), chairman of the City Council’s Committee
on Public Safety, complained Brown had failed his first major test as superintendent because he was more concerned with cutting overtime than fighting violence.
Taliaferro claimed there were “hundreds” fewer officers on the street when there should have been at least as many as last year, maybe more, to “saturate” South and West Side police districts plagued by gang and gun violence.
Four days later, demonstrations over Floyd’s death turned ugly, prompting Lightfoot to invoke a 9 p.m. curfew.
The next day, police officers’ days off were canceled. Bridges were raised, sealing off downtown with downtown expressway ramp closures enforced by the National Guard. That prompted looting and mayhem to spread into South and West Side neighborhoods.
The overtime edict was out the window; police officers were required to work 12-hour days for weeks on end.
The June figure covers the last two weeks of May and the first two weeks of June. That means overtime in the July report, covering the last two weeks of June and the July Fourth weekend, could be even worse.
“Normally, we have a higher overtime for Memorial Day. And that level continued with the George Floyd protests and then the following week with another week of protests and with the looting and everything that was going on,” Budget Director Susie Park told the SunTimes.
“This is something that we could not control. … New York’s overtime for that period was quadruple, I think. A lot of other cities during the protests that happened probably had similar police overtime costs.”
The stay-at-home shutdown triggered by the coronavirus has blown a $700 million hole in Lightfoot’s precariously balanced 2020 budget.
Park refused to say whether the sky-high police overtime for the month of June would exacerbate budget struggles.
She would only say city budget officials would “do the best we can for the rest of the year” to control the more routine forms of police overtime. She noted overtime spending during the month of May was $4.3 million, less than half of what it was during the same period a year ago.
Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara called the $47.1 million in overtime spending for the month of June a recipe for officer burnout.
“You had three weeks of canceled days off. You’re paying a lot of people a lot of money. They’re gonna do it again on Labor Day. Yet again, cancel both days off. This profession has turned into a job that most people don’t want,” Catanzara said.
“And they want to talk about officer wellness? Who the hell can have any sane family life when you can’t even have a holiday off after 30 years on this job?”
Catanzara said the saddest part of the overtime spending is that Chicago has little to show for it.
On May 30, six people were killed. Over a 24-hour period on May 31, 18 more people were killed. It was Chicago’s deadliest day in at least 30 years.
“You’re not enforcing any laws. All you’re doing is putting bodies out there,” he said.
Chicago police stand in a roadblock outside CPD headquarters at the intersection of 35th Street and Michigan Avenue during a recent demonstration.
Chicago police officers face off with hundreds of protesters on June 1 outside a store that had been looted near East 71st Street and South Avenue in the South Shore neighborhood.