By Suzanne Le Mignot

CHICAGO (CBS) — CBS 2 is tracking a growing number of Chicago police officers leaving their jobs, even without a pension.

CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot is taking a close look at those numbers and the reasons behind them.

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In just the first six months of this year, 367 officers retired. CBS 2 spoke to a recently retired officer who gave some insight into the rising numbers. The person spoke with us, if we agreed to conceal their identity.

“People see us as the enemy and we’re not. All we’re trying to do is help the people of the community, the city of Chicago.”

This person, who had nearly 25 years on the job, retired within the past year from the Chicago Police Department.

Retirement numbers are broken up in two ways: Those who don’t get their pension because they’re not eligible and those who do get a pension.

Data obtained through public records shows in 2017, 37 officers left the department before being eligible for a pension. So far this year that number is nearly double with 68 officers.

For those who are retiring with their pension, that number has been climbing steadily over the years:

In 2018 there were 339 retirements. The following year in 2019, there were 475. In 2020, there were 560 retirements. And already this year: 367 just through the month of June.

For this retired officer, who left with the department with numerous commendations, the streets of Chicago, became too much.

“We get spit on. We get things thrown at us, you know, you, they’re fighting with us. People are protesting, calling us names and not just the protestors,” said the retired officer. “But you’ve got the people who are supposed to have our back in government.”

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This former officer said there’s a feeling the rank and file don’t have the support they need to carry out their duties from the superintendent and mayor.

“If someone had our back, we could do our jobs,” said the officer. “But again, threatened with lawsuits, indictments, officers getting fired, that is actually, again, stifling us.”

The retired officer said another reason for the mass exodus: The mandatory 12 hour days to increase patrols throughout the city. But this doesn’t address the need to hire more officers.

“We want to work in a department that is standing by us and standing by us and doing our jobs. We do our jobs to the best of our ability. Stand by us. Don’t toss us aside.”

In response, the Chicago Police Department said staffing levels are appropriate and retirements are increasing across the country.

The department is recruiting, hiring and has reopened the training academy after COVID-19 canceled classes for recruits. A priority is also being placed on the wellbeing of officers.

The Chicago Police Department sent a statement to CBS 2:

This is one of the most challenging times to be in law enforcement. One of these challenges includes officers retiring at a higher rate across the nation.

Here in Chicago, we are recruiting and hiring our next generation of officers as part of our “Be the Change” campaign. At this time, CPD continues to maintain appropriate staffing levels citywide and has resumed recruit classes at the Education & Training Academy following the months-long suspension of classes due to COVID-19. 

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CPD is also prioritizing the wellbeing of our officers and creating a culture of wellness to ensure members have the resources they need. This includes proactively offering services to Department members, as opposed to waiting for members to seek help. 

Suzanne Le Mignot