Robbery, burglary investigations sit idle again as CPD puts detectives on “street corner duty”

Update 10:54AM — Shortly after we published the story below, CPD leaders began informing command staff that the department is expanding 12-hour days for all officers to June 7 instead of June 1. Cops will still receive two days off during the 18-day period that begins May 21, but none will be off on Memorial Day weekend.


Detectives made little progress over the weekend in their investigation of a woman who was beaten with a pipe and robbed while walking in Lakeview on Friday morning. That’s because the detectives who should be investigating the attack were in uniform, sitting in a squad car on a street corner to increase police visibility in Lawndale, according to a CPD source. Most other robbery and burglary detectives from CPD’s five area divisions were also ordered to hang out on street corners rather than investigate crimes from Friday through Sunday.

“Their burglary and robbery cases aren’t being investigated thoroughly because they are posted up on some corner for the entire shift,” an officer told CWBChicago. It was the second weekend in a row that police leaders ordered legions of detectives to spend weekend shifts sitting in cars rather than investigating crimes. We first told you about the plan on May 7.

The union that represents Chicago’s rank-and-file police officers is urging detectives to protect themselves from accusations of non-productivity by filing memos every time they are taken away from investigations to camp out in a car under the new tactic.

“Aspects of this investigation have been delayed due to the involuntary assignment,” a sample memo from the union reads. Among the duties the draft document says will be affected by reassignment are “residential canvasses, video canvasses, interviews, follow-up calls, evidence identification, evidence preservation, evidence submissions, policy review, report writing, [and] warrant writing.”

In fact, CWBChicago learned, leaders of the Lakeview-based Town Hall District on Friday night sent patrol officers to search the neighborhood near the pipe attack for evidence because there were no detectives to do it.

Last week, we shared many of the questions our readers raised about the tactic with CPD leadership. After three phone calls over five days, the department on Friday declined to answer the questions:

  • The department has already reassigned over 1,000 patrol officers from districts to citywide anti-violence units. Why can’t they sit on street corners instead of taking detectives away from investigations?
  • How many of the city’s detectives are assigned to sit on street corners?
  • What is the purpose of this tactic?
  • What, exactly, do the detectives do when they are assigned to street corner duty?
  • How will using detectives in this fashion affect their case clearance rate and prosecution of offenders?

Now, CPD leaders haven’t gone completely bonkers. Detectives who handle homicides are not required to participate in street corner duty. But that doesn’t mean murder investigations aren’t being affected. You see, when street cops make an arrest that requires a detective’s involvement on weekends, a homicide detective has to handle it because the investigators who’d usually do the job are sitting in a car somewhere, according to multiple sources.

So, how is the strategy of having detectives babysit street corners going?

According to crime stats maintained independently at HeyJackass.com, there were 32 people shot, six fatally, when the plan debuted on Mother’s Day weekend. That’s more shooting victims than the same weekend in any year going back to 2014, the first year that HJ began compiling records. This weekend’s total? 52 shot, 7 fatally. Once again, that’s the most for the same weekend since HJ records began in 2014.

Meanwhile, cops across the city are getting ready for long hours and limited time off as summer arrives. Starting Friday, officers will work 12-hour shifts through June 1. They’ll be given one day off during the 12-day stretch.

On another topic, the president of the union that represents CPD’s sergeants told CWB last week that he never received a response to an April 30 letter he sent to Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPD Supt. David Brown warning that the department is operating with an “unprecedented shortage of the supervisory ranks,” especially sergeants.

CPD hasn’t promoted any officers to sergeant in over a year, Chicago Police Sergeant’s Association President James Calvino told Lightfoot and Brown in the letter. District sergeants are often supervising more than 20 cops at a time on the street, Calvino said. The federal consent decree that CPD is working to comply with requires a ratio of 10-to-1, according to Calvino.

Our exclusive and original reporting is 100% reader-funded. Please make a contribution to our operating fund or purchase a subscription today.