Could more officers on the street be a good thing? Could it lead to fewer violent crimes? Could it happen, even in a place known for high numbers of violent crime, like Chicago?
Kevin Graham, President of Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police seems to think so.
Over the Independence Day weekend, which is typically one of the most violent of the year for the city, 1,500 additional cops were patrolling parks, streets and lakefronts, according to the mayor’s office.
“We’re flooding the zone. We know the areas in the city where we believe there are challenges,” said Mayor Lori Lightfoot. “We’re gonna make sure that we are physically present, that we are engaging with people in those neighborhoods. And that we’re bringing resources into those areas in particular where we have concerns about any kind of conflict.”
Where did these ‘additional’ officers come from?
These were men and women who gave up their holiday time to work additional shifts rather than being home or traveling.
According to a Fox News story, the exact statistics for the Fourth of July weekend were not yet available, but Graham said on Monday that the extra police presence appeared to have helped curb some of the violence experienced through this year in the Windy City.
980 people have been shot so far this year, which is down 11% from the 2018 figures through the same date.
According to WGN, 68 people were shot, five fatally, from Thursday to Sunday in Chicago.
The total is substantially lower than in 2017, when 102 people were shot, 15 fatally, over the same long weekend, Chicago’s ABC 7 reported.
Those are decreases of 33% and 66%, respectively.
While Graham was quick to praise the efforts of the CPD over this long weekend, he also pointed to the fact that this cannot be a long-term solution.
“We cannot continually cancel people’s days off every single weekend. We’ve got to let them have some time with their families,” he said.
“Although the city’s police force has already been working to hire more officers, they still need more people to serve,” Graham continued, “and the department needs to broaden their relationship with the community, which has been characterized by tension and mistrust in recent years.
We have been hiring more police officers. We are back to the numbers where we need to be, but we still need to hire more police officers.”
The Chicago Police Department currently has approximately 13,500 officers, with roughly 60%, or 8,100 assigned to patrol. The other 40% are assigned to specialized units, such as SWAT and investigative units.
Graham also applauded the city’s law enforcement officers for their strength and commitment, given the circumstances.
Each of these additional 1,500 officers could have simply clocked out after their previous shift and enjoyed their time off.
“These Chicago police officers are doing a phenomenal job under very difficult conditions, and I can’t say enough how proud I am of the work that the officers do,” Graham told America’s Newsroom.
This type of attitude and selfless service in indicative of most of the people who put on a badge and go to work serving and protecting their communities.
While most people believe that an officer’s responsibility ends once their shift ends, they do not see the additional hours that get put in.
There are people who would rather vilify officers under a single, stereotypical blanket instead of watching the level of commitment and dedication the vast majority of the law enforcement family possess.
That is an absolute shame. If people would simply stop finger pointing long enough to recognize the professionalism and dedication that officers bring to the streets, there just might be an increased level of appreciation and respect for the men and women who hold the thin blue line.
Until then, members of the Chicago PD and every other law enforcement agency out there…be careful. Just know, that there are many of us that will watch your six!