CHICAGO — Chicago police officers are retiring at a rapid pace, raising concerns the number of new hires won’t keep pace with the number leaving.
The trend started earlier this summer, with CPD officers retiring at more than double the normal rate. According to the City, 59 officers are retiring in August and another 51 in September, more than double the average of about 24 per month.
Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara said he noticed the rise in retirees right after unrest and rioting began in the city.
“I’m surprised they’re not higher to be honest with you,” Catanzara said. “It was pretty obvious right away, May 29 and 30 specifically.”
While a change in health insurance benefits may be a factor, the union president blames Mayor Lori Lightfoot, saying he believes the mayor is under-prepared and not offering officers an adequate financial package.
Catanzara said police have been working without a contract for three years.
“It just goes to show the lack of respect the mayor and these attorneys have for the men and women; it’s all fluff when they say they care but they really don’t,” Catanzara said.
A spokesperson with the mayor’s office said Tuesday: “While the Mayor will continue to support the men and women of the Chicago Police Department, we will not entertain uninformed comments and furthermore, we are not going to participate in a race to the bottom.”
But there is some concern the number of new hires won’t be enough to fill the retirement gaps, as some officials say we could see a shortage of officers by the end of this year.
“We’re going to be hurting because we’re losing a lot of leadership we’re losing a lot of seniority, knowledge and its going to be a huge void and from what I understand there are not a lot of officers in the police academy,” said Alderman Tony Beale (D-9th Ward).
The police union head doesn’t blame their members for retiring, especially in this environment
“It’s not worth the attacks, physically, the exhaustion, mentally, and just the lack of appreciation as a whole for the profession,” Catanzara said.