CPD staffing on Northwest Side in spotlight after dispatcher sounds alarm

Chicago News

CHICAGO – Chicago police staffing on the Northwest Side has come into the spotlight after a dispatcher recently sounded the alarm.

Emergency dispatcher Keith Thornton Jr., heralded for working during the Ella French shooting, took to Facebook Live over the weekend to warn of officer shortages in the 16th District.

The district handles any police activity north of Belmont and west of Cicero.

“When you call 911, you’re not getting a quick response like many other parts of the city. Officers are not coming to you,” he said.

Thornton claims on a recent night there were scores of police cars in the 16th district unavailable or operating with just one officer.

“I have a different reaction than most because Keith has been a friend of mine for 25 years,” Ald. Nick Sposato (38th Ward) said. “But his video was a bit misleading. Yes, we are short in 16, there’s no if ands or buts about it. Totally unacceptable to me and the 7 other aldermen that are represented in the 16th district. Therefore, we had a meeting with Superintendent Brown today and First Deputy Carter and Chief of Patrol McDermott, they’re aware of what’s going on.”

After the meeting, the Council members released the following statement.

“Per the Superintendent, sworn officer personnel will be returning to the districts, to include the 16th District. The 16th District will also be receiving additional police bids in early 2022.”

For now, COVID-19 is straining resources. A source said that 30 percent of the 16th district is currently on medical leave.

With Chicago near 800 murders, it’s been a busy year for police. Sposato said although Thornton’s facts may not be right, he’s glad he raised the staffing concerns.

“It helped a lot,” he said. “It brought light to a lot of things.”

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Ald. Sposato said CPD currently has 7,000 applicants for new officers.

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