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CPD makes change after scathing report on cancellation of officers' days off

Chicago Police introduce new policies aimed at giving officers more time offf
Chicago Police introduce new policies aimed at giving officers more time offf 02:43

CHICAGO (CBS) – Chicago Police officers say they're being pushed past their limits with their days off and their vacations being canceled.

Now, police Supt. David Brown is making changes aimed at giving officers more time off.

As CBS 2's Charlie De Mar reported Tuesday night, this comes after a Chicago Inspector General's report that found that during April and May, nearly 1,200 officers were scheduled to work 11 consecutive days.

Many of their records show days off canceled mandatorily. The inspector general pointed out the department's record keeping makes it difficult to determine if the officers actually worked all of those days.

For months, we heard from officers and their families about the impact of consistently canceling officers' days off.

We know three officers died by suicide in July alone – and the superintendent regularly talks about the importance of mental health. But a psychologist with whom De Mar spoke Tuesday said the changes announced by Brown don't go far enough.  

Violence as been high and at times, tensions have been even higher between police and the community – and there has been a shortage of police officers. Thus, the CPD rank-and-file have been asked to put in the hours.

"That is lip service that they're saying that, 'We care about officer wellness,'" said licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Carrie Steiner.

Dr. Steiner was once Officer Steiner. She served the CPD for over a decade.

Now, she is a psychologist who works with first responders and specialize in trauma therapy.

"You're just not setting up the Chicago Police officers for success - or the citizens of Chicago - by not giving them some days off," Steiner said.

The practice of canceled days off has been the recent focus of city leaders – as well as Ryan Clancy, the brother of Officer Patricia Swank.

Officer Patsy Swank was the first of three Chicago police officers lost to suicide in a little over two weeks. Her family blamed the culture at the Chicago Police Department and is demanding change from the department's top brass and speaking to CBS2's Megan Hickey. Provided to CBS

Officer Swank died by suicide in July.

"I hope we all know by now mental health is real and that our officers are both exhausted and overworked," Clancy said on July 20.

Clancy said earlier this summer that in the days and weeks before the 29-year-old officer took her life on July 2, Swank worked 22 days in a row and 12-hour shifts had become the norm.

"Working long hours with canceled days off - when was she supposed to get help?" Clancy said on July 20.

The Chicago Police Department said in response that the report lacks context and that during that time period, the city experienced hundreds of events.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot agreed that things need to change.

"We know that we've got to make sure that there is a process by which officers have time off," Lightfoot said. "Tired, emotionally wrought officers is not good for them, not good for their families, and not good, frankly, for the community members that they're serving."

On Tuesday, CPD Superintendent David Brown said that effective immediately, officers will have no more than one requested day off canceled a week, except during holidays.

They will also have a minimum of nine hours between shifts.

"It still is not acceptable. That's not prioritizing officers' mental health," Steiner said, "and you're going to have more problems, and you're going to have more accidents; more use of force incidents."

Officers will have two consecutive days off in each police period. 

Ald. Matt O'Shea (19th) has introduced an ordinance to address the time off issue within the department. He called the superintendent's policy change an important first step.

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