CHICAGO — After 31 years with the Chicago Police Department, retired lieutenant John Garrido is sounding the alarm on what he calls dangerously low staffing levels for CPD.
“[Police officers] are just running from job to job trying to keep up,” Garrido said. “We’re constantly in a backlog. The 911 calls are coming in and we can’t keep up.”
Garrido said things are especially bad in the 16th District, which covers 30 square miles spanning Jefferson Park, Portage Park, Belmont Cragin, Edison Park, and Norwood Park.
“We are down about 100 police officers from where we were 15 years ago,” Garrido said. “That’s significant.”
Of the 12 individual beats in the 16th District, Garrido said many of them are consistently unmanned, and that the district was particularly short-staffed this past weekend when three people were fatally shot in a quadruple shooting in Portage Park.
“That’s a big area to cover,” Garrido said. “When you have nobody that’s covering that beat, our response times are slower and there’s no backup officers. It’s dangerous.”
Candidate for Chicago Mayor, Paul Vallas, also brought attention to the lack of CPD staffing Monday.
“Last year, there were 400,000 high priority 911 calls that they did not have a police car to respond to,” Vallas said. “That’s half of all the 911 calls that year.”
In a statement from the mayor’s office, a spokesperson said, “Paul Vallas has been the mouthpiece for the [Fraternity of Police] for years. It’s no surprise this plan looks like it was written by John Catanzara. Mayor Lightfoot’s Safer Chicago Plan is working, resulting in a significant decrease in homicides and shootings this year. Her public safety plan also includes significant investments for communities long neglected to address the root causes of violence. Paul Vallas’ ‘plan’ contains none of that.”
CPD currently has 11,710 sworn officers on duty, a more-than 1600 officer decrease from their total officer count of 13,350 in 2019.