No on-call system for Chicago SWAT endangers officers and civilians, FOP complaint says
The Chicago Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) recently filed a complaint that accuses Chicago’s SWAT team of having a shortage of manpower that endangers the public and police force.
Unlike SWAT teams in other major U.S cities, Chicago’s team has no on-call system in place that guarantees a minimum recommended number of officers will respond to the taking of hostages, the threat of a suicide or other emergencies during off-duty hours, according to the FOP complaint.
The complaint, a copy of which was obtained by Chicago City Wire, was filed on Aug. 29.
“The situation has been addressed by members of the SWAT team with their supervisors on countless occasions in debriefs over the years,” the complaint states. “As of this time still nothing has been done.”
The complaint cites a June 15 incident where SWAT team members responded to reports of a 24-year-old man firing a handgun and then barricading himself in a garage. Four on-duty SWAT officers responded immediately. Only eight off-duty SWAT members of 50 called responded.
“This was not enough manpower to secure a proper perimeter,” the complaint states. “The result was the armed subject was able to break the perimeter, which endangered citizens, district personnel and members of the SWAT team. Additionally, the inadequate number of SWAT personnel did not give SWAT officers on the scene, nor Chicago police negotiators, the time and resources to de-escalate the situation.”
An officer shot the man in the lower body with a rifle after he pointed his handgun at police, a police spokesman said. The man then shot himself and died at the scene.
A former SWAT team member told Chicago City Wire that non-lethal bean bag shells from a shotgun or sponge rounds from a .44 (often used to disperse crowds) should have been used as soon as it was clear that negotiations were getting nowhere and the man was a threat to civilians and officers.
“The Department (CPD) is pushing for and wants de-escalation but its own SWAT team couldn’t do it,” the former SWAT member said. “The reason they didn’t employ less lethal alternatives is because they didn’t have enough personnel, and that’s because they don’t have a formal on-call system.”
Training logs show that Chicago SWAT does not meet the standards established by the National Tactical Officers Association for a full-time force and barely meets standards for a part-time force, the former team member said
Chicago SWAT, for example, has no training in explosive breaching, the former member said.
“In a hostage situation you have to know how to enter in from a wall inside of the building because the bad guy is either covering the entrance or has blocked it,” the former member said. “Even the SWAT teams in smaller cities know how to do this.”
The former member also said that the city could cover the cost of an on-call system by getting rid of some overtime pay for SWAT officers.
“Some are making well over $100,00 on a base salary of $85,000,” he said. “One officer is making over $200,000.”