Chicago faces police officer shortage amid crime epidemic

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 15: Chicago police officers attend a graduation and promotion ceremony in the Grand Ballroom on Navy Pier on June 15, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. Several civil rights organizations have filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Chicago seeking federal oversight of changes in the Chicago Police Department following repeated accusations of civil rights violations by officers in the department. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

CHICAGO, IL – JUNE 15: Chicago police officers attend a graduation and promotion ceremony in the Grand Ballroom on Navy Pier on June 15, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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UPDATED 10:03 AM PT – Sunday, October 17, 2021

Chicago Alderman Brian Hopkins said the city’s police force is facing a severe officer shortage due to lack of recruitment.

During an interview on Saturday, the alderman explained how the city’s law enforcement is struggling to fill positions in an “anti-police environment nationwide.” He stated the force is down about 10 percent from their fully staffed levels and expect that number to increase to 30 percent.

While many assume the shortage is due to officers opposing vaccine mandates, Hopkins said that’s not exactly the case and that there’s more to it.

“That has nothing to do with vaccination and everything to do with the difficulty in recruiting and training police officers in what really is an anti-police environment nationwide,” the alderman said.

Although Hopkins has denied the shortage is because of vaccine requirements, earlier this week the city’s mayor, Lori Lightfoot, took police union Fraternal Order of Police to court over its local chapter’s refusal to comply with the mandate. This has sparked ongoing tension between Chicago law enforcement and Lightfoot. In addition, police officers have reportedly been threatening to stay home in a so-called labor action.

Hopkins said the publicity of this bitter dispute between city leaders and the head of Chicago law enforcement is upsetting everyone.

“We can’t have that at a time when we need police officers to stand up and uphold their oath to protect and serve society now more than ever,” said Hopkins.

This raises concern for the city after the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported Chicago’s homicide rate jumped more than 50 percent from 2019 to 2020. Although overall crime is down this year compared to 2020, reports show there has been an increase in sexual assaults and theft.

In the midst of a post-pandemic recovery, the lack of law enforcement and an increase in crime rates will stall economic recovery according to the Hopkins.

“We have a crime epidemic in Chicago. We’re seeing an increase in armed robberies, carjackings, daytime shootouts in residential neighborhoods and crowded downtown streets, increase crime,” Hopkins stressed.

The Chicago alderman voiced his confusion about the police reform being so stern on refusing the vaccine after revealing the president of the police union is in fact vaccinated. But in the meantime, Hopkins believes COVID vaccines and boosters are bound to be “a mandatory part of life.”

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Author: carleyshaffer1

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