More than 10 percent of Washington, D.C., police officers are not performing their regular duties because of injuries or stress, reports the Washington Post. The worsening problem has contributed to shortages on neighborhood patrols.
The Post says that the missing officers have sapped the strength of a department that has employs the most officers per capita of any big-city force. Activists are frustrated that the department has replaced the officers or gotten them back on the job.
Since 1998, Ramsey’s first year in office, the combined number of officers on long-term sick leave or “limited duty” has grown by 71 percent, to 384 on a 3700-member force. Ramsey had no explanation for why the number of sick and stressed-out officers has risen under his tenure.
Washington’s City Council is considering a bill intended to speed up the system that handles officers’ injury claims. Ramsey may reestablish a “casualty unit” to find malingering officers.
In Chicago, Newsweek reports, 700 officers are out sick or hurt every day. Cops are entitled to 365 medical days for every two years of service. “We know there’s abuse, and we’re cracking down,” says spokesman Pat Camden. The average cop missed 18.5 days in 2002; 44 percent of the 14,000 officers took no sick time, the rest averaged 33 days. Officials conduct surprise checks–ringing doorbells at homes of officers who called in sick.