As a new class of Chicago police cadets graduate this week, some law enforcement experts are questioning the department’s push for officers to work overtime in high crime areas.
In the last few weeks the Chicago Police Department has been offering overtime to officers working in the most dangerous parts of the city.
In addition to that plan, Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said recent graduates of the Police Academy will be placed on foot patrol in high crime areas after completing a special training.
McCarthy said the increased visibility of uniformed officers should help curb the gang violence in those areas.
But Patrick Camden, a spokesperson for the Fraternal Order of Police, says the city needs to hire more police officers.
“How long can you continue to use those resources on an off-duty situation before they reach a saturation point,” said Camden.
Maki Haberfeld is a former police officer who now teaches at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.
She says for police officers working overtime in a stressful environment, there could be a high price to pay.
“We are seeing a lot of substance abuse, divorces, other social problems in police officers as opposed to other professions,” she said. “And this is when I’m talking about the regular police work.”
According to Haberfeld, police officers who spend an increased amount of time working dangerous neighborhoods could suffer Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Because the dangerous situations occur so frequently for officers, she said in some cases the PTSD could be more traumatic for officers.
“Soldiers are deployed for a certain period of time then they come back,” she said. “But the entire police profession is exposed to possibly dangerous situations on a daily basis.”
The new overtime strategy comes as Alderman Brendan Reilly recently proposed hiring more off-duty police officers to help patrol areas like downtown.