A dispatcher for the Chicago Police Department railed at police management and Mayor Lori Lightfoot in a nearly 30-minute video posted to his Facebook page last week, claiming that resources are dangerously low and Chicagoans “are being lied to” by city officials.
“Keith is p*ssed. Keith is p*ssed right now,” said Keith Thornton, who was praised widely for his dispatching duties in August in the moments after Officer Ella French was fatally shot and her partner severely wounded.
While Thornton was specifically addressing reduced staffing levels in the 16th District, located in the north of the city, CWB Chicago adds that police staffing is “anemic” throughout.
“I’m really riled up right now,” Thornton continued, adding that it was around 11 p.m. in his Dec. 23 video. “I had a long day, and I’m riled up right now.”
According to his LinkedIn profile, Thornton, who grew up in the city, has been a CPD dispatcher since April 2018. Beforehand, he worked for a time in the Los Angeles Police Department and later in emergency medical services in California as well as the Philippines.
The dispatcher went on to say that the Jefferson Park district “is so shorthanded with officers that, when you call 911, you’re not getting a quick response … officers are not coming to you … because we have very few officers within these neighborhoods.”
He added that officers assigned to the Jefferson Park region must cover 30 square miles of Chicago between Belmont Ave. Cicero Ave., and the city limits.
“I’m talking about females being beaten. Shootings — a shooting came out a few days ago, and we couldn’t even get the unit over there … until 10-plus minutes later because there was no one,” Thornton stated.
When David Brown became police superintendent in April 2020, the Jefferson Park district had 268 officers but now there are just 229 assigned as of this month, the Chicago Office of Inspector General told CWB Chicago.
“They don’t replace the officers here that retire,” Thornton charged. “They don’t replace the officers that get promoted.”
“The biggest one that I love: When all hell breaks loose in downtown Chicago … they’re sending five, six cars from this district, just like all the rest, to go sit on a post to protect downtown. It’s bull crap,” he said, going on to explain how reduced department staffing has real-world effects.
“Now, Sally’s calling for the man who’s beating on her. The kid’s calling right here because he’s shot. The paramedics are on the scene of a car accident and they’re fighting,” he continued.
“Here’s another car accident up here. Here’s a stabbing right here. Here’s a domestic battery right here. And no one’s coming,” he added as he held up a sketched visual aid he said denoted the number of patrol cars that weren’t staffed in the 16th District as he spoke.
“So [911 calls] stay lingering on the board of the district for hours and hours and hours, and no one’s coming until someone eventually frees up or the next shift comes in eight hours later to handle that call,” Thornton said, noting further: “It’s smoke and mirror, guys.”
He then took verbal aim at Lightfoot.
“CPD is short manpower and you are being lied to by the mayor and CPD upper management,” he alleged. “All that lady cares about is her f*ckin’ self. And I pray you’re watching this, ‘cuz you’re a disgrace, and I’m tired of it. And your city is tired of it. Matter of fact, it’s not your city.”
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