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After battling civil unrest and looting last week, a Chicago Police lieutenant described a department “stretched thin,” lacking direction and fearing what could happen next.

In his almost three decades on the job, he’s never seen officers stretched so thin as they were controlling crowds at protests demanding justice for George Floyd and responding to looting, vandalism and violence across the city.

“I’ve never experienced anything like this in my career. There’s some officers on their 10th day in a row working … 12-hour days,” he said before the weekend.

Chicago Police set up shop in the parking lot at Guaranteed Rate Field, where platoons would be assembled and sent to various neighborhoods.

“Literally, it was ‘Here’s where you’re going.’ It wasn’t ‘Here’s your function, here’s what you are supposed to do, this is what we want you to do.’ It was just go there and be scarecrows,” the lieutenant said. “That’s what they want us to do, go there and be scarecrows. There’s no direction, there’s nothing. It was chaos from the very beginning.”

The lieutenant said Chicago Police leadership should have acted sooner to cancel days off and put more officers on the streets.

“We can Monday-morning quarterback but they should have canceled days off two days earlier. It should have started on Friday. They knew what was coming. Minneapolis, all these other places were having problems, it was definitely coming here.”

“The looters [were] emboldened, they are on a roll, they are getting what they want and we are unable to stop them so we’re letting them have it,” the lieutenant said.

“We [weren’t] really trying to catch anybody because the crowds [were] too big and we don’t want our officers getting separated … and getting hurt. So, the main priority is protecting our officers.”

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