CHICAGO — A photo of two Chicago police officers sleeping in a squad car has gotten a lot of attention on social media, prompting officials to take disciplinary action. The photo has also raised questions about officer safety and whether increased overtime is taking a toll on officers.
The photo, which shows two police officers asleep in the front seat of a police car, was first posted Saturday morning on Facebook. It’s been shared more than 20,000 times since, including by mayoral candidate Ja’Mal Green who blames the situation on mandatory overtime.
“Both of them, not one was out, both of them were asleep, they probably had a rough day, they may have done a lot of overtime and these are the effects of it,” Green said.
Green, who has been a vocal critic of the Chicago Police Department during his days as a community activist, said this one is on Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the decision to deploy 600 more officers to combat the recent surge in gun violence.
"The answer is never to continue to militarize our communities," Green said. "I think that we have a heavily militarize community already, we have to have a comprehensive plan that talks about mental health, how to improve schools."
The Chicago Police Department released the following statement about the photo:
Officer welfare, health and safety are among our highest priorities. The officers involved in this incident were not on an overtime initiative and worked minimal amounts of overtime since July 1st and didnt work overtime this week or weekend.
The mayor’s office referred WGN News to the police for comment. The officers will be disciplined and are being investigated by the internal affairs department. The Fraternal Order of Police president had no comment when asked him about the photo.
Former Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, who is also running for mayor, said the picture raises the hair on the back of his neck.
"Sleeping on duty is just inexcusable, it’s big deal," he said.
He also blamed the mayor and said politics is being used rather than proven police strategies, which is emboldening criminals while hamstringing officers.
"If its retrain, discipline or prosecute that’s what you do, you just don’t reverse course," he said.
Mayoral candidate and former police board president Lori Lightfoot said the photo doesn’t inspire public confidence in the police. In a statement she said:
“This administration has exceeded overtime budgets year after year, pushing officers to a breaking point with excessive overtime work and very little officer wellness support, resulting in stress, fatigue, and potentially deadly consequences.”
Former CPS CEO Paul Vallas released the following statement:
"More than a photo of officers sleeping in their squad car, this weekend's continued bloodbath of shootings and murders shows that the Chicago Police Department's unrelenting overtime strategy for officers simply is not working.