CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago's police union is asking officers to not volunteer to work overtime during the Labor Day weekend to protest the "continued disrespect" toward officers and the killings of law enforcement personnel nationwide.
The Chicago Police Department typically deploys thousands of officers on overtime to counteract the spike in shootings that usually occurs during long holiday weekends. But in a recent flier sent to rank-and-file officers, the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 advises against officers volunteering for duty.
"There is a new level of concern that families now have when their loved ones leave for work in law enforcement that they didn't have a month ago," Chicago FOP President Dean Angelo said, referring to the recent fatal shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. "And we are saying, put your kids at ease, don't take that extra day at risk if you don't have to."
The flier said taking a stand would also "show unity and ... protest the continued disrespect of Chicago Police Officers."
The request may be largely symbolic. Labor Day is the last of three warm-weather holidays when thousands of extra officers usually flood the streets, and the department says it will order officers to work overtime if insufficient volunteers step forward.
"There will not be any operational impacts to the deployment of police on Labor Day weekend," department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said.
But the flier underlines serious problems for the department, which has come under fire for using excessive force since the November release of a now-famous video showing a white Chicago police officer shooting black teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times.
That shooting helped to expose stark statistics that show officers in the city are rarely punished for on-duty shootings. The officer involved in the McDonald shooting, Jason Van Dyke, was the first in decades to be charged with murder for an on-duty shooting. And between 2007 and two months ago, the Independent Police Review Authority that investigates police misconduct found only two of some 400 police shootings were unjustified.
Just this week, the agency recommended that three officers involved in two separate shootings be fired. And though the recommendations were made after the flier went out, Angelo said it is the latest example of the lack of support for police officers that he has been talking about for months.
"These officers are being subjected to the entire anti-police movement," he said.
This story has been updated to show that Labor Day, not Memorial Day, is the last of three warm-weather holidays in Chicago when extra officers are called in.