12-hour workdays, little time off is a “recipe for disaster,” CPD sergeants warn

The labor union representing Chicago’s police sergeants is raising concerns about CPD’s reliance on 12-hour workdays with little time off for officers as an anti-violence strategy.

“This is a recipe for disaster,” the Chicago Police Sergeants’ Association said in a statement.

CPD leaders are requiring all cops to work 12-hour days between May 21 and June 7 with only one or two days off. The labor group’s letter said some officers would receive no days off during the 18-day period. This week, some of the department’s unit leaders were told to expect mandatory 12-hour shifts with no days off over the Fourth Of July and, possibly, Father’s Day weekends, according to documents provided to CWBChicago by a source.

In practice, a 12-hour shift “translates into a 14- or 15-hour workday when you account for travel to and from the work location and the preparation time to start the tour of duty,” the sergeants’ group said.

“The lack of proper and adequate rest and sleep has a cumulative effect on the human body and mind,” the statement continued. “In some cases, Members are only being given 5-hours between their shifts. This is a recipe for disaster.”

The group pointed to a sleep deprivation study that showed errors and attention lapses increase when subjects aren’t allowed recharge. Federal regulations limit the amount of time that flight crews, truck drivers, and other workers can spend on the job precisely because exhaustion can lead to dangerous mistakes.

Even Mayor Lori Lightfoot has said police need to be given adequate time off to recharge, according to the sergeants’ letter.

“When you’re tired and you’re having to make literally life or death decisions, you’re not going to be at your best if you are working a schedule that essentially is around the clock with really no breaks,” the letter quoted Lightfoot as saying during contract negotiations. “You can’t be well if you don’t have time to recover from one of the most tough and traumatic jobs that there are, which is to be a police officer in an urban environment like Chicago.”

Last week, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7, which represents front-line cops, cited mandatory extended work hours and limited time off as one reason for passing a no-confidence vote in Lightfoot and CPD Supt. David Brown.

The FOP’s action is largely symbolic and has no consequences for any of the named leaders. Chicago’s police union passed similar votes against former police superintendents Jody Weis and Eddie Johnson during their respective terms.

Lightfoot called the union’s vote, “a badge of honor.”

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com