Mules and jackasses: Chicago mayor denies cops are being overworked as CPD chief cancels most days off

Three weeks ago, Chicago Police Supt. David Brown, standing in front of news reporters and TV cameras, dismissed a journalist’s claim that some police officers were working 11 days straight because the department had canceled so many days off.

“I don’t know where you get the 11 days in a row,” Brown quickly replied. “So let’s just slow it down a little bit.”

In fact, we reported, on the day Brown spoke, many officers were completing their 11th straight day of work and the police department’s own documents proved it.

Yesterday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot personally dismissed the idea that cops are working unusually long stretches without time off.

“What I would urge is for people to educate themselves about what the realities are,” Lightfoot told reporters, according the Tribune’s Gregory Pratt.

She dismissed police union claims to the contrary.

“‘They’re being worked like mules,'” Lightfoot quoted a union chief as saying. “It’s simply not correct.”

“Sometimes people get wedded to a narrative but that narrative is just not correct.”

We aren’t familiar with the typical mule’s work schedule, but it seems like Lightfoot’s narrative may be the one in need of correction.

In a series of emails this month, Brown’s office has canceled nearly all Chicago police officers’ regular days off from June 14 to June 21 and June 28 to July 5. Another order canceled June 26 and 27. Additional orders canceled days off for some cops in between or adjacent to those dates, too.

In the first email below, Brown canceled days off for officers beginning with the morning shift on June 14 until the overnight shift ending on the morning of June 21. In the second, Brown canceled all days off beginning with the morning shift on June 28 until the overnight shift ends on July 5.

In these two emails, Supt. David Brown canceled every CPD officers’ regular days off for two of three weeks. | Provided

And, every day this summer, CPD brass prevents rotating groups of cops from taking off as part of the department’s pre-announced “Weekend Cancellation Matrix.”

But having days off canceled is just one of the joys of summer for Chicago’s cops. The department is also warning that 12-hour shifts may be implemented.

More: Anytime someone gets shot in Chicago, the local police district’s leaders are under orders to extend shifts of on-duty officers to “prevent retaliatory shootings.”

“In addition, tours of duty will be extended on (morning) watch for all districts that had a shooting the previous day, or after midnight the current day,” according to the order, which was emailed on June 9.

Lightfoot on Wednesday spoke at length about the number of vacation days Chicago cops earn under the terms of their contract. But earning time off and being allowed to take it are two different animals.

What the mayor did not talk about is that cops cannot take their vacation time without getting the written approval of someone at the rank of deputy chief or higher.

Last month, an aide to one of those deputy chiefs, Gilberto Calderon, told officers that Calderon will reject their requests for time off if they do not include an accent mark over the letter “o” in his last name:

ALL TO-FROMS MUST HAVE THE ACUTE ACCENT MARK OVER THE O (Alt 0243). THEY WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED. PLEASE DO NOT WRITE IT IN WITH A PEN

The instructions are boldfaced and underlined in the department memo, which mentioned Calderon’s last name four times — but never included the accent mark.

CWBChicago reported in May that the police department records show some of its highest-ranking cops took time off last year while they canceled days off for rank-and-file cops.

Editor’s note: This story originally misstated the start date in Brown’s second email. We regret the error.

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About CWBChicago 6676 Articles
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