Chicago police Superintendent David Brown has reassigned more than half of the CPD’s tactical unit officers to basic patrol duty amidst a shortage of officers and a struggle to contain ongoing violence in the city.
The department’s staffing numbers have been dealt several blows lately, with many officers out sick with the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, as well as retirements and suspensions due to poor performance, police sources told the Chicago Tribune.
Many of the department’s tactical officers, who are responsible for making the majority of arrests and investigating patterns of crimes like robberies, shootings and drug activity, will now be placed on patrol duty.
Officers on patrol duty have a more general purpose in responding to 9-1-1 calls and building relationships with businesses and residents.
Now, after one of Chicago’s deadliest years, the department finds itself severely hamstrung.
In 2021, Chicago recorded a devastating 800 killings, 4,000 shootings and 1,700 carjackings, according to police statistics. The department, meanwhile, has a low watermark of under 12,000 sworn officers on duty – a thousand less than the number in 2019.
Chicago police spokesman Don Terry released a nonspecific statement regarding the move.
“The Chicago Police Department’s top priority is safeguarding every community and neighborhood across the city,” Terry said. “We are continuing to review crime activity citywide and put the appropriate resources in place to ensure public safety and grow community trust and support.”
According to police sources, department leaders became aware that around 70 tactical officers had been generating “little activity” in making arrests or traffic stops and decided they would be more useful on patrol duty.
Brown has previously been known to demote commanders who have not posted arrests or traffic stops, which has led to some oversight groups like the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois to warn that such conduct could lead to constitutional violations.
Both Brown and Mayor Lori Lightfoot have blamed Cook County’s lenient criminal justice system and tendency to let criminals back on the streets for the rise in crime.