On second thought…
Less than two months after top Chicago police leaders disbanded nearly half of their district tactical teams, the police department yesterday announced that it wants to “fully staff” all 22 district tactical units “in anticipation for the upcoming months.”
The department is also reconstituting its Community Safety Team (CST), a pet project of CPD Supt. David Brown that drew hundreds of cops out of local patrol districts to serve on a citywide violence reduction unit.
CST recently shed hundreds of officers as aldermen pressured department leaders about sharp declines in district-level staffing.
Discussions with the Superintendent
CPD administrators yesterday said the tactical team and CST changes are coming “after discussions with the superintendent.”
Each of CPD’s five areas will now have a Community Safety Team, the admin’s email said. The Bureau of Patrol “would like to have all tactical/area teams fully staffed” in preparation for “the upcoming months and events,” the message continued.
In January, police leaders provided no explanation when they ordered 40% of district tactical teams to start working as uniformed “rapid response” units. Well-placed sources told CWB that the move was a stop-gap measure to shore up the department during a time when more than 20% of its officers were on medical leave due to COVID.
But, lacking an explanation, some tactical officers suspected that Brown was up to something more sinister. Entire district teams submitted resignations from their positions in protest, multiple sources said.
Rather than manage the situation, CPD leaders accepted the resignations and then forced some tactical unit partners to work on separate shifts in their new assignments as punishment for leaving the teams.
Now, with the city’s murder rate slightly out-pacing last year’s bloodbath and every other major crime category seeing significant increases, CPD finds itself trying to attract cops to join tactical teams again — at the risk of being treated similarly in the future.
Historically, district tactical officers have been used to patrol the city’s street festivals and major events because their schedules can be changed without costing the city more money under their labor contract, a source said. Brown, who became superintendent as COVID emerged in April 2020, has never worked in Chicago during a typical summer and he may not have been aware of that when he decided to disband the units in January.