Watch CBS News

'Sick-Outs' Had Police Officers Not Showing Up For Work This Week In Calumet Park, Harvey; Officials Say Labor Issues To Blame

CALUMET PARK, Ill. (CBS) -- Dozens of police officers called out sick this week in two south suburbs – so who was patrolling the streets?

As CBS 2's Jermont Terry reported, two deputies from the Cook County Sheriff's police patrolled in Calumet Park after officers called in sick Tuesday. They were sent to help the one part-time officers who showed up for his evening shift.

The other police cars were sitting in the station parking lot all day Tuesday, and there is a fear that the "blue flu" will continue Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Harvey had a similar experience a day before.

Ms. Sadeatra Hollinquest spends a lot of time on her front porch. With her home one block away from the Calumet Park police station, there is one constant.

"I would see them off and on all day - coming to the center, riding in the streets," Hollinquest said.

But on Tuesday, she said, "I haven't seen any police cars or anything."

That is because the squad cars are parked – just sitting in the lot. The mayor of Calumet Park said every officer in the police department called in sick for their shift.

The illegal sick-out comes after the department moved from 10-hour shifts to 12 hours on June 1.

The police union filed a grievance, claiming the move would eliminate overtime for officers.

[scribd id=511099513 key=key-uGmTLxMElYYrtGHLra1N mode=scroll]

But the Village of Calumet Park argues the contract allows for officers to work up to 12 hours.

"If you have a contract and it's out there, then yes, you should abide by the contract," Hollinquest said.

Yet Hollinquest and the other residents want to make sure they're safe too.

"As taxpayers, we want to have that protection," she said, adding she was torn on the subject.

South suburban Harvey saw the same problem on Monday.

"Only one officer did show up for his particular shift," said Harvey Ald. Marshun Tolbert (2nd).

The Cook County Sheriff's office sent a few deputies to help out both cities temporarily. But Tolbert said the sick-out in Harvey is a result of the city's restructuring high-ranking officers, forcing them back to patrols.

"The lack of resources is resulting into a very unsafe community, and residents are seeing; they're complaining about response times," Tolbert said.

Tolbert stressed morale at the police force is at an all-time low.

"Our police department is in turmoil, and I think that's an issue," he said.

And with 12 murders in Harvey so far this year, crime is creeping up.

"They deserve answers," Tolbert said, "because they're paying really high property taxes, and the police protection they think is there is really not there."

Legally, police officers cannot go on strike. But with blue flu threatening to continue in Calumet Park on Wednesday, the mayor and city attorney said they have not ruled out going to court to get the cops back into their squad cars.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.