Terrorist incidents. Hostage situations. Dangerous suspects. The Chicago Police Department’s SWAT team responds to some of the city’s most volatile situations. Chicago, unlike most big cities, doesn’t staff its SWAT team around the clock. Instead it relies on members to respond during their off-hours. Now WGN Investigates has learned some members of the SWAT team are refusing to respond to those calls to protest the department’s practices.
“Lives are on the line,” Pete Milionis, a former CPD SWAT team member who now conducts training for other departments, said. “Unless officers make this stand and make people care bosses will never change."
The Fraternal Order of Police filed a grievance after a stand-off this summer in which a suspect broke through a police perimeter before the SWAT team could fully assemble.
“After calling over 50 members one by one, only eight were able to respond,” the grievance states.
The suspect allegedly pointed a gun at officers who shot him. He was injured and then turned the gun on himself. A police department lawyer responded to the union grievance by saying the complaint was not related to officer safety and the incident was “appropriately resolved.”
The union wants SWAT team members to be compensated for being on-call.
Watch the full story and see CPD Supt. Eddie Johnson’s response in the video player above.