|SWAT officers in Uptown | Via @TheAngus|
The third-largest city in America has just two SWAT officers on duty during overnight hours, according to a report by Chicago City Wire. And if something serious happens during the thinly-staffed nighttime hours, Chicago is at the mercy of off-duty SWAT officers who may choose to volunteer for service “but they are not required to [respond],” the report said.
According to the report,
The source said that the CPD has a total of 60 full-time deployable SWAT members as part of its Special Functions Division. But they perform other duties as well.
The CPD reports that over the past year, its SWAT team has responded to 40 calls, including barricaded subjects, suicidal subjects and hostage-rescue incidents. It has also engaged in 65 high-risk search warrants and 500 missions at professional sports venues, large concert venues and major events, such as the Chicago Marathon.
In a follow-up report published Monday, Chicago City Wire quoted an unnamed former Chicago Police Department SWAT team member:
He [said] that at night the full SWAT complement on patrol is at most four, and sometimes as low as two.
“Typically from 10:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. we have two SORT teams (Special Operations Response Team) on patrol,” he said. “From 2:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. we have one team. That means two guys in one pick-up truck covering the entire city.”
The follow-up story also raises questions about Chicago’s SWAT training and capabilities.
…What’s more, Chicago SWAT has no training in explosive breaching.
Other inadequacies include Chicago SWAT having only two armored vehicles – one a 20-year-old BearCat “that’s always breaking down” — and no maritime training.
“If the Odyssey (a dinner cruise boat docked at the Navy Pier) is ever taken, we would not know how to respond,” he said.
The Chicago Police Department declined to confirm the manpower numbers contained in the City Wire report.
In July 2017, the SWAT unit had 69 total members, according to information provided to CWBChicago by CPD in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.