Chicago Police Intend to Be More ‘Judicious’ in Canceling Officers’ Days Off as City Announces Summer Safety Plans

(Michael Izquierdo / WTTW News)(Michael Izquierdo / WTTW News)

Chicago police will be deploying additional officers during the Memorial Day holiday weekend and plan to continue the controversial practice of canceling some days off for officers throughout the historically violent summer months.

Thanks to our sponsors:

View all sponsors

Mayor Brandon Johnson, speaking Friday at the Chicago Cultural Center downtown, joined Chicago police Supt. Larry Snelling and other department leaders to unveil the city’s summer safety plans ahead of Memorial Day weekend.

“We stand here today because we have to confront what is (a) difficult truth,” Johnson said. “The historic trends of violence during Chicago’s summer months persist, they’re threatening, of course it’s very heavy on the very spirit of all Chicagoans.”

As it has in previous years, the Chicago Police Department this weekend will deploy additional resources along the city’s beaches — which opened for the season Friday — as well as the lakefront and central business district.

According to Snelling, the CPD will rely on overtime and canceling officers’ days off to ensure the department is properly staffed.

That practice has drawn heavy criticism in the past from the city’s largest police union, members of which went so far as issuing a vote of no-confidence in former Mayor Lori Lightfoot and ex-Supt. David Brown, in part due to difficult working conditions and the repeated cancellation of days off.

But Snelling said he intends to be “judicious” in making the decision to cancel officers’ days off and will provide officers with advanced notice when their days off will be canceled so they can plan around those changes.

He also said police overtime and day-off cancellations are “way down” from where they were last year.

“We’re dealing with human beings here who have families,” Snelling said. “We can’t just blindly cancel days off and expect people to show up to work and work the way we would like to see them work. If our officers are not well, they are not going to perform well.”

Snelling said his department has been working for a year to better ensure each neighborhood is equipped with necessary resources to respond to and prevent violent crime. He said district commanders and deputy chiefs will have the autonomy to adjust their police resources to respond to crime based on what they’re seeing on the ground.

“Crime doesn’t happen on a schedule,” Snelling said, “so it’s important that across the city we’re flexible and can adapt to what the needs are in real time.”

Last year — Johnson’s first in office — the mayor similarly touted additional police deployments across the city and the lakefront as well as a collaborative effort with community leaders and neighborhood organizations to ensure there would be safe events for residents throughout Chicago.

Still, more than 50 people were shot and 11 were killed during the three-day Memorial Day weekend last year, according to CPD figures. Johnson at the time called the violence “intolerable.”

Those totals were both up from 2022, when 9 people were killed and more than 40 other people were shot across Chicago. The previous year, 2021, marked the fewest homicides (three) over a Memorial Day weekend in the city in a decade, but in 2020, nearly 50 people were shot and 10 people were killed during that same weekend.

Johnson said no deaths are tolerable, and the city needs to do a better job providing jobs and opportunities to residents to help keep violence levels down.

This year, homicides across Chicago are down 17% compared to the same time last year, while shootings are down 8%.

“Murders are down, shootings are down,” Johnson said, “but there is so much work still to be done.”

Department leaders on Friday also discussed the launch of 3,000 city-run summer jobs through the Park District and additional programs to keep youth engaged during the summer months.

The city’s One Summer Chicago program will offer paid jobs to young people from June 24 through Aug. 2, according to Brandie Knazze, commissioner of the city’s Department of Family and Support Services.

Teens and young adults ages 16-24 can earn $15.80 per hour, for a total of nearly $1,900 across the summer, Knazze said, while teens ages 14-15 can earn a weekly stipend of $75 in career discovery programs where they’ll shadow adults working in different professions.

Johnson was also asked Friday about whether he would continue a curfew for unaccompanied teens and minors in Millennium Park and Maggie Daley Park. He said there are “ongoing conversations” around creating safe spaces for young people.

“We have to make sure that we’re keeping people safe,” he said, “but we also have to make sure that we’re not placing restrictions that ultimately lead to a deeper level of frustration that could manifest in another part of the city.”

Contact Matt Masterson: @ByMattMasterson | [email protected] | (773) 509-5431

Thanks to our sponsors:

View all sponsors

Thanks to our sponsors:

View all sponsors