Ill. Pride parade could be canceled due to lack of officers to provide security, PD says
The news comes after parade organizers banned uniformed officers from marching, although police didn't say if the officer shortage is related
By Megan Jones
The Beacon-News, Aurora, Ill.
AURORA, Ill. — The Aurora Pride Parade on Sunday may be in jeopardy because Aurora police said officers have not stepped up to pick up overtime shifts to provide security at the event.
The news comes in the wake of a controversy after the Aurora Pride Parade Committee's decision to ban uniformed officers from marching in the event. As a result, Mayor Richard Irvin announced he would not participate in the parade and the city pulled its entry in the float lineup.
Aurora Police Department spokesman Paris Lewbel in a statement Tuesday said the department has worked with organizers to help as they looked for a sufficient number of officers to provide security at the parade.
Because the parade is privately-run and not sponsored by the city, police officers working on a security detail at the event do so on their own time. Lewbel said such extra shifts are voluntary and the city cannot force people to work them.
He said the department has also worked to help link-up organizers with other police agencies in the area which might be able to provide officers to provide security.
As of Tuesday, he said Aurora Pride still needs 20 more officers to patrol and monitor the parade properly.
"Unless the additional officers are secured shortly, APD cannot recommend to the city that the event can proceed as planned," Lewbel said.
In a statement, Aurora Pride organizers on Tuesday said "we are concerned and disappointed, and we are investigating all options available to us."
The city approved the parade's permit on May 3 and since then, the police department has attempted to find as many officers as possible to work the parade, Lewbel said.
However, as of Tuesday, organizers were still unable to fill the officer slots needed to provide security at the parade, according to Lewbel.
The statement by police did not say whether the shortage is related to the organizers not wanting police to march in the parade in uniform.
Aurora police officials said the department has seen a significant increase in the need to hire overtime shifts to cover staff shortages, sick calls and vacation requests. In the past few years, Lewbel said officers have wanted to spend more time with family and friends rather than taking overtime shifts.
"As a result, we often have trouble hiring overtime shifts to cover our patrol division or for officers to work special events," Lewbel said.
Lewbel declined to disclose the exact number of officers needed to provide security at the parade, but said the Aurora Pride organization was informed of the number during the application process for the event.
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