Chicago Police Morale Drops, More Officers Quitting

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A veteran Chicago police officer with 20 years in uniform wants out, fed up with how dramatically his work has been upended since the release of the video showing an officer shoot Laquan McDonald 16 times. Like many colleagues, this cop believes his proactive style of policing has become a relic of the past because of fears over lawsuits, firings, even indictments, the Chicago Tribune reports. He and other officers say the anti-police furor over the vivid footage continues to sink morale, hamstring officers, and embolden the criminal element, contributing to a shocking jump in violence to levels unseen since the late 1990s. “The bad element knows that policemen aren’t willing to do the job the way they did it (before),” said the cop, a supervisor who’s getting his resume in order. “They’re right in tune with how police are policing.”

Two key measures of police activity appear to back up concerns that cops have pulled back on their aggressiveness. Arrests have dropped sharply in 2016, to 72,069 through Oct. 20, a 24 percent decline from 95,213 a year earlier and the fewest in at least five years. Even worse, street stops over the period have plunged to 91,438, down 82 percent from 513,161 a year earlier. A longer, time-consuming form officers must fill out for each stop has played a significant part in the drop. By early October, 465 officers retired or quit, already more than in all of 2015 and each of the two previous years. Officials attribute the increase to older officers retiring before a key health insurance benefit expires with the next police contract in June. Superintendent Eddie Johnson believes officers have grown cautious, fearful of being the next viral sensation. “I’ve never seen the level of disrespect out there on the streets,” he said. “… I’ve never seen that before. So it is a tough time right now. But we’ll get through it.”

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