CHICAGO (CBS) — The Fraternal Order of Police on Wednesday filed a motion with a judge asking the city to bring in outside aid so that officers can rest, after they have been subject to continued 12-hour shifts and canceled days off.
The FOP Lodge 7 asked U.S. District Judge Robert M. Dow Jr. – who is overseeing the consent decree imposed last year on the department – for a “limited intervention on an emergency basis” to allow the union to present the risks that sleep deprivation poses to officers.
“At a minimum, the safety and wellness requirements of the Consent Decree should be interpreted to require the City to marshall additional resources to provide for citizen protection such as requesting the assistance of other police agencies and even the National Guard,” the motion said.
The motion comes two days after a letter to Chicago Police Supt. David Brown in which FOP Lodge 7 President John Catanzara Jr. noted that over the past three weeks, officers have been working up to 16 days without days off, and they have been working shifts of 12 hours or more.
“This is a well-recognized workplace hazard, and it is abnormal because in the recent history of the department, our officer s have not been required to be on duty for more than a few days at a time,” Catanzara wrote.
During the Cubs World Series championship run in 2016, the extra work shifts lasted no more than a few days, and during the NATO Summit in May 2012, the extra shifts only lasted two days, the department said. But in recent weeks, during unrest and looting in the city following protests over the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, Catanzara said the city has gone “eell beyond the time allotted for extra hours and shifts.”
The 12-hour shifts and canceled days off for officers were imposed on Saturday, May 30, the day that unrest, violence, and looting erupted downtown. They continued through Wednesday of last week before a return to normal shifts, but 12-hour shifts and canceled days off were imposed again this past Sunday in the wake of unrest in Atlanta following the death of Rayshard Brooks at the hands of police there.
Catanzara wrote that CPD officers are “exhausted and worn out from the constant turnover of one shift to the next,” and said the recent death of Officer Xu Meng from carbon monoxide poisoning in Albany Park “could be attributable to his having been too exhausted from working and not aware of the carbon monoxide alarms that were going off in the condominium where he lived.”
Catanzara’s letter and the motion documented scientific information on the risks of sleep deprivation, particularly when it comes to police officers – comparing the effects of sleep deprivation to being drunk and emphasizing that accidents increase with lack of sleep and time off day.
Judge Dow is overseeing a consent decree on the CPD that took effect on March 1, 2019.
The decree came after scathing Justice Department report in 2016 had found systemic abuses by the Chicago Police Department against minorities, including officers routinely using excessive force against African-Americans and Hispanics.
The motion from the FOP said, “This court has stated on several occasions that its function under the Consent Decree is to serve as a contract enforcer, and this emergency motion requests the court to take such action to protect the health, welfare and safety of the Officers.”