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 There’s a growing fear that no amount of money can entice people to take this job.
that perhaps 10 percent of those will ac- tually take the test.
Is it conceivable that only 10 percent of those ever enter the academy, and, if so, what does that say about the man- power outage?
“I’m sure you hear it – ‘Oh, this job doesn’t mean shit anymore, it’s not the same and they’re making it harder on police officers,’” Sanchez expresses. “And you see it yourself, hear it on the news how people don’t want to be the police because their hands are being tied.”
But Sanchez recognizes that there’s a more formidable barrier causing nobody to want this job or do this job.
“Until we actually start taking control of the criminal justice system, I don’t see anything changing,” he adds. “If ev- erybody’s getting away with murder and being on house arrest after being let out, no matter how good the morale of the Department would be, if we ain’t sending a message through the justice system, then it’s just going to continue being a battleground.”
Esli Kilponen, the 14th District third watch rep, submits additional data ex- plaining why nobody wants this job. She reasons that it’s a fallout of the Depart- ment asking beat cops to be everything – social workers, sanitation workers, EMS workers, community counselors, etc.
The bosses want officers on the street to handle a full night of calls but also make traffic stops and, of course, keep those arrest numbers on the rise. But don’t let that get in the way of increasing the number of positive community inter- actions – the sacred PCIs.
“There are so many layers you have to think about,” Kilponen continues. “A lot of officers feel that instead of helping you, those layers are there to hurt you.”
Nobody’s first instinct is to bail. On the contrary, actually. But when they ask you to be everything, then cancel your RDOs for weeks at a time – or months, as they did the past two summers — what is the option?
“I know plenty of guys who have hit the medical just to get a break,” Andras- co observes. “I can’t fault them for that.”
To say that the trickle-down effect of all this is desperation would be an un- derstatement.
“The people who we are putting on the street are potentially those who should not have a badge or a gun with author- ity,” Andrasco states.
Nobody wants this job because they don’t want to endure all that scrutiny from bosses, oversight organizations and the public waiting to whip out cell- phones and video every police interac-
OCCUPATIONAL CONTINUED FROM PAGE 35 how much the city is upping the ante,
Munguia echoes what so many are hear- ing: “I don’t think there is any amount of money people would want to be part of something like this right now in this day and age.”
The City and the Department only need to see what’s transpiring with the ambassador program to get why nobody wants this job. It’s more than the fact that only 15 cadets made it to graduation of a recent class. And it’s more than nobody expecting those numbers to improve drastically any time soon, largely be- cause of the immense scrutiny from the public, the media and the City that has become so renowned. And the retribu- tion that it has caused.
Dave Diaz, who retired in January fol- lowing 23 years in 019, served in the am- bassador program. He was part of the detail making a bigger push than in years past because of the personnel shortage currently intensifying. But the response he was getting even in one-on-one greets was less than enthusiastic.
“A lot of people were apprehensive,” Diaz relates. “They’re like, ‘Wait a sec- ond. Even though the money is good, I’m not going to risk my life for some reason I don’t have any control of.”
The Department has never experi- enced a crisis like this. In addition to the apparent utter disdain for wanting to be- come a Chicago Police Officer, message boards in the districts tell the rest of the story.
Officers are retiring, retiring early, re- signing or lateralling because morale is below rock-bottom Department leader-
ship is mired in ego and being pressured into crucifying the troops. Legislation and legislators have basically handcuffed members from doing proactive policing.
“I’ve been on the job for 21 years, and I’ve seen a lot of changes. I actually have to say this is the worst I’ve ever seen it,” confirms Luis Rivera, who works a beat car in 025. “Young officers who at least will try to stay around for 10 years are already jumping ship. They’re leaving the city in droves. Hence, in trying to recruit police officers, they’re lowering standards. If you’re lowering standards, you’re getting a lower quality of officers just to meet an agenda.”
This is what Lodge 7 has been trying to get the City and the Department to understand and why the union has been working exhaustively to protect mem- bers' rights and promote better working conditions. It’s crisis management that has never been more urgent, more need- ed or more important.
Continue being a battleground
The not-getting-any-better-anytime- soon feeling casting a pall over the job causes many of those who have been on the job a long time to be philosophical as much as they are angry. Jose Sanchez, the unit rep in 015 who has more than 20 years on, recalls a time when there were 20,000 people who wanted to take the entry exam to become a Chicago Police Officer.
Now, Sanchez observes that the City can barely get 2,000 to consider the test. Lodge 7 President John Catanzara suspects the registration drive that ran through January may show 14,000 peo- ple pinged the information online but
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