CHICAGO — Police Supt. Eddie Johnson urged officers to keep signing up for overtime shifts after a police union memo circulated that urged them to force a manpower shortage during Labor Day weekend.
"The Chicago FOP [Fraternal Order of Police union] is asking the membership not to volunteer to work any type of [overtime] over the Labor Day weekend," read a post about a memo published Sunday on the police blog Second City Cop. "The media will have to report on the manpower shortage and it will prove that Rahm and the Department have been lying about manpower for the past 6 years. Every cop out there complains they can't get time off, can't get off on holidays this will bring that fact home."
Speaking at a bicycle safety event for children in Eckhart Park in West Town Tuesday morning, Johnson encouraged officers to spend time with their families but urged them to keep signing up for overtime shifts.
"If we want to show support for our officers, then our responsibility and our oath is to be out there backing each other up out on the streets," Johnson said. "Because that's what we do. The biggest way to show support for your fellow officer is to be there when they need you."
At a City Club luncheon last month, union president Dean Angelo Sr. praised a recently-announced initiative to concentrate officers in high-crime areas during their overtime shifts.
He also noted, however, what he called an unprecedented "level of disrespect" that was making it harder for officers to do their jobs.
With a police force whose ranks have seriously diminished since 2011, some local officials have called to hire more officers to address the city's surging violent crime rate. Police officials have responded by pointing to boosts in overtime as a cheaper alternative.
Nonetheless, Johnson said he was confident the department would remain properly staffed, at least in the short term.
"I'm not concerned about having enough officers ... " Johnson said. "We will ensure there will be no operational interruption during that holiday period."
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