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.”
Six Flags Great America released the following statement regarding the shooting:
Six Flags dedicates our greatest amount of time, talent and resources to safety and security.
Layers of preventative measures both inside and outside the park are in place for the protection of guests and team members. We continue to review and enhance our protocol on a daily basis to ensure we are providing the highest level of safety.
Cameras placed in the parking lot and inside the park, uniformed and plain clothes patrols throughout the property, and advanced screening technology allow us to react quickly and provide important information. The park security team is joined by the Gurnee Police Department, who operates a substation at the park.
This evening, we are incredibly grateful to our team members who reacted in a professional manner to take care of our guests, and for the Gurnee Police Department for their on-going presence and commitment to Six Flags Great America.
Ald. Sposato said CPD currently has 7,000 applicants for new officers.