CHICAGO—More and more young Chicago police officers are taking leave of absence to seek or work outside jobs, and most didn’t return when their leave ended, according to records obtained by The Epoch Times through a Freedom of Information Act request.
In 2019, 23 officers took leave of absence for outside employment. In 2020, the number doubled to 49.
In January 2021 alone, six officers took leave of absence for outside employment, triple the number for the same periods in both 2019 and 2020.
The records obtained show data from January 2019 to January 2021.
About 70 percent of officers on leave for outside employment between January 2019 and June 2020 either quit or retired a year after their initial leave took effect, after which they could no longer extend the leave.
Three out of five officers on leave for outside employment are in their 20s and 30s.
In a previous interview with The Epoch Times, John Catanzaro, president of Chicago’s largest police union, said more young officers were leaving because of terrible working hours, a lack of respect for police, and legislation that punishes officers for simply doing their jobs, while being soft on criminals.
In January 2021, Illinois lawmakers passed a sweeping criminal justice reform bill that will allow anonymous complaints against police officers, open the door to civil penalties for officers for pattern and practice violations, and prohibit officers from arresting offenders for Class B and C misdemeanors.
Catanzara said Chicago’s police force is shrinking from both ends: old officers are retiring and young officers are quitting.
For those in the middle, who have already invested a substantial amount into their pension plans, it would be much tougher to leave even if they want to, he said.
About 650 police officers quit or retired in 2020, compared to about 600 in 2019.
As of April 20, 2021, 330 Chicago police officers have quit or retired this year. Meanwhile, only 105 new officers were hired during the same time.
Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7, Chicago’s largest police union, represents roughly 18,000 active and retired police officers. The Chicago Police Department is the second-largest metro police department in the country, with approximately 12,000 sworn officers.