CHICAGO — The Chicago Police Department has made changes ahead of Memorial Day weekend, a time when violence has historically gone up in the city.
Hoping to stop a repeat of last weekend’s violence over the holiday, police have canceled days off and will work 12-hour shifts.
It’s a move that comes as two police unions say officers are being overworked.
It’s become routine on holidays for Chicago officers to work longer hours with no days off.
More than 50 people were shot and 12 were killed last weekend, and the violence continued throughout the week. A 21-year-old was killed in South Shore Thursday morning, just after getting into an Uber driven by Olga Perez.
“He got in my car and I was like ‘this is where we are going?’ His eyes just got really big and he was like go-go-go-go! I hit the gas. The driver was looking at me and the gunshots came from the backseat,” Perez said.
Perez survived, but so many others over the week have not.
All this violence comes as we head into a holiday weekend when police expect a spike in crime. To prepare officers, officers regular days off, or RDO’s, have been canceled and they will be working 12-hour shifts.
Ten people were killed and nearly 50 were shot last Memorial Day weekend and that was with pandemic stay-at-home orders in place.
Earlier this month, the FOP issued no confidence votes for Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPD Supt. David Brown, partially over working conditions.
This year they are not alone in asking for a more regular schedule. This week, the union that represents sergeants in the departments made a letter public — saying officers are being overworked and can’t be 100% with little time to rest between shifts and see their families.
Both unions say when there is an emergency they are ready to put in the hours, but canceling days off and working longer shifts as a just in case, needs to stop. They say it’s eroding what little moral is left in the department.
Supt. Brown and Mayor Lightfoot held a press conference Friday afternoon to discuss the changes.
Officers will focus on the 15 most violent beats across the city.
“These 15 areas account for 50 percent of the violence in our city. We group these beats into four zones, two on the South and two on the West,” Mayor Lightfoot said.
It won’t just be officers though, the city said each department in government will provided coordinated services and community outreach efforts in those areas.
Supt. Brown said the department has been working with grassroot organizations and community leaders in those areas in an effort to curb crime.
“We are flooding these zones with resources and support for families for young people so that there are meaningful and productive activities at their fingertips,” Lightfoot said. “The entire summer particularly at night and on weekends when we see the most challenges with violence.”
UCAN is one of the dozen of organizations that will have a hand in this effort. The Chicago-based nonprofit works with youth and families who have suffered trauma.
“My organization is going to be out there some 21 hours per day, seven days per week trying to get to the bottom of it,” said Francisco Perez.
City leaders said all residents are responsible for making Chicago safer.
Read More Chicago News headlines