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Chicago Police Department staff shortage issues in the 16th district raised by 911 dispatcher Keith Thornton

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Chicago Police Department staff shortage issues in the 16th district raised by 911 dispatcher Keith Thornton

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CHICAGO (WLS) – A city dispatcher who has been praised for his handling of Constable Ella French’s fatal shooting is worried about a staffing shortage within the Chicago Police Department.

Keith Thornton is a 911 dispatcher in the city of Chicago. In August, it was his composure the night officers Ella French and Carlos Yañez were shot which first brought him notoriety.

Now Thornton is back in the limelight after an almost 30-minute Facebook Live video in which he singled out the city’s 16th Police District. He said that on the night of December 23, 9 of the 14 police units assigned to it were down.

“It’s outrageous and I’m not happy,” Thornton said. “Those who are white are the ones who beat the cars. Those who are scratched, they are down. So you don’t have any police coming. “

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Thornton pointed to the long line of patrol cars parked outside the district on Sunday afternoon as evidence of what he said was a serious lack of resources.

“When I get texts from officers telling me that they are afraid for their safety because they are working alone, then the beating next to them, to support them, is not there because the cars are in failure is a problem. It is a safety problem, “he said.

What is going on? In terms of area, the 16th Police District is the largest in the city, encompassing everything north of Belmont and west of Cicero. Like the rest of the police service, the district has lost a significant number of officers in recent years as retirements continue to outpace new hires.

But while staffing is nowhere near what supporters of the department would like to see, the current situation is described by some as a short-term anomaly linked to the pandemic.

“I know there is a COVID outbreak over there,” 38th Ward Ald. said Nicolas Sposato. “I know they’re down by around 70 between COVID, service layoffs, out-of-service layoffs and no pay status. So it’s beyond the officers we’ve lost In the last few months, I’ll say two months. We “I lost eight officers I guess… We want more bodies here. We want more officers … I don’t want to see one man cars there. I know sometimes things happen, but it happens too often and it’s too regular a basis. “

Sposato said he, along with the other seven aldermen who represent the 16th District, had a meeting with Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown on the matter on Tuesday, which he hopes they will be able to get a commitment for additional support.

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