A 70-year-old Uber driver waited more than an hour for a police officer to respond to his 911 call after two men carjacked him in the Loop on Tuesday morning, according to CPD dispatch records. Why? Because there were no cops available in the district to handle the assignment.
Police said the man was on the 600 block of South Michigan, standing near his dark blue 2022 Toyota Venza on the edge of Grant Park, when two men walked up around 5:30 a.m. He said they told him they would shoot him if he didn’t run away. While he didn’t see a gun, the man took off and called for help from a nearby hotel.
Meanwhile, the two hijackers drove away with his car.
CPD dispatchers first received the man’s call around 5:45 a.m., but the local police district was in the midst of a shift change. All overnight officers were tied up handling other calls or wrapping up their workday.
The call was finally assigned to a day shift unit just after 7 a.m.
They met with the victim, who lives in south suburban Matteson, at the hotel. The street-smart officers advised the driver to contact Uber so they could suspend his driver account. After all, two carjackers were riding around in his car with his phone. They could potentially accept rides on his phone and rob unwitting passengers who climbed in.
There are currently 261 officers assigned to CPD’s Central (1st) District, which serves the Loop, South Loop, Millennium and Grant Parks, and much of Bronzeville. That’s the lowest monthly staffing level for the district since at least August 2017, when the city’s publicly-available records begin.
By comparison, the district had 300 cops in March 2018; 332 in March 2019; 302 in March 2020; and 269 in March 2021.
While staffing is down, the district’s carjacking rate is up. There were 13 cases recorded so far this year as of March 18, up from five during the period last year. There were five cases in 2020 and two in 2019, according to city data.