ROBBINS, Ill. (CBS) — Police officers in south suburban Robbins said Saturday that they are “taking a stand” in what some call a blue flu.
As CBS ‘s Marissa Parra reported, officers are not legally allowed to strike, so they are not using that term. It is not a “sick out” either, as they are not using sick days.READ MORE: Kenosha County Sheriff's Deputy Shoots Chicago Homicide Suspect At Bristol Gas Station; Suspect Shot Police K-9 During Confrontation
But Parra was told that of the 14 Robbins police officers, roughly 10 to 12 are calling out and not coming into work.
“We want the village to understand we all stand in solidarity with each other; that we’re not going to continue to give our all, and the village is ignoring us gives us nothing,” said Robbins police Detective Cmdr. Hurman Mathus.
Mathus stressed that officers in his department feel underpaid, under-resourced, and overworked.
“We have officers coming in making $11.50 or $12.50 an hour,” he said. “You get people from McDonald’s that are coming in making $12.50 an hour, and all they’ve got to do is cook some fries. Here we are putting our lives on the line — responding to shots-fired calls, things like that — and they don’t seem to care.”
Parra asked Robbins Mayor Darren Bryant if the officers’ concerns are also of concern to him. Bryant replied. “Absolutely, that’s why I ran.”
Bryant said he is asking for patience.
“I’ve been mayor for five months now,” he said. “Most of our challenges are inherited. Their contracts have actually been expired since 2020.”READ MORE: NOAA Releases 2021-2022 Winter Outlook
But patience has worn thin.
“It was an inherited issue – he is right about that,” Mathus said. “The problem is things have gotten worse. Every officer’s wearing an expired vest right now. A lot of our officers here to try to make ends meet have two and three jobs. Everybody is tired.”
With no clear end in sight for the walkout, Parra asked the mayor what the next steps were – for first responders and for people who live in Robbins.
“That question is a little bit more complex,” Bryant said. “But the main goal is to keep the people safe, and give the employees the resources they need to keep the people safe.”
Mayor Bryant also issued a letter to Robbins community members emphasizing that the concerns around the call-offs by police are “not new.”
The mayor stressed that the people of Robbins will not be without emergency service. He said the village has added surrounding agencies for assistance, including the Cook County Sheriff’s office.
We reached out to get a sense of whether there have been any calls to which those other law enforcement agencies have had to respond, and how many of their own are responding. The Cook County Sheriff’s office released this statement:
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“Cook County Sheriff’s Police are currently handling all calls at the request of the Robbins Police Department due to an extreme shortage of officers within the south suburban department. The Sheriff’s Office will continue to work with Robbins officials to provide public safety for the village’s residents. For more information, please contact the Robbins Police Department.”
The Village of Robbins continues to see a change in leadership this year. They swore in a new deputy fire chief in August, and they will swear in a new police chief on Tuesday as well.