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Bartlett v. City of Chicago

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

October 1, 2019

ROBERT BARLETT and PATRICK LEYDEN, individually and on behalf of other similarly situated SWAT team members of the Chicago Police Department, Plaintiffs,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          CHARLES P. KOCORAS, DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court are Plaintiffs Robert Bartlett (“Bartlett”) and Patrick Leyden's (“Leyden”), individually and on behalf of other similarly situated members of the Chicago Police Department (the “CPD”) (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) and Defendant City of Chicago's (the “City”) cross-motions for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. For the following reasons, the Court grants the City's motion and denies the Plaintiffs' motion.

         BACKGROUND

         The following facts are taken from the record and are undisputed unless otherwise noted.

         The Parties

         Plaintiffs Bartlett and Leyden are CPD officers who were both assigned to the CPD's Special Weapons and Tactics (“SWAT”) Unit when it became a full-time unit in 2005. Bartlett was assigned to the SWAT Unit until April 2017. He is currently on leave from the CPD while performing duties as a field representative for The Fraternal Order of Police, Chicago Lodge No. 7 (“FOP”), the union that represents CPD officers below the rank of sergeant. Leyden remains assigned to the SWAT Unit.

         In addition to Bartlett and Leyden, Plaintiffs' FLSA certified collective class includes 76 opt-in plaintiffs, and the Rule 23 certified class consists of 102 class members. The Plaintiffs currently work or formerly worked as operational members of the SWAT Unit in the rank of police officer.

         SWAT Background

         The mission of the SWAT Unit is to provide a tactical response to critical incidents where the potential for injury and/or loss of life is present and where the circumstances are unusual and beyond the capabilities of normal police response. Critical incidents include, but are not limited to, hostage situations, barricaded and/or suicidal subjects, sniper situations, high-risk apprehension of individuals, active shooter incidents, and incidents relating to terrorism and/or weapons of mass destruction. The SWAT Unit also executes high-risk search warrants, provides dignitary protection, and provides security and protection at O'Hare Airport and at large public events, including games at the City's professional sports stadiums and arenas.

         The SWAT Unit is based out of Homan Square, which is located at 3340 West Fillmore, Chicago, Illinois 60624. The SWAT Unit is a volunteer unit, meaning that CPD officers voluntarily apply for entry into the unit and are eligible to be considered for admission only if they meet certain qualifications and pass a detailed selection process.

         The SWAT Unit has a Commanding Officer, an Assistant Commanding Officer, supervisors (primarily sergeants), operators (who hold the rank of police officer), and other support personnel. The SWAT Unit is comprised of four squads, and each squad is supervised by at least one sergeant. The Commanding Officer, who has overall command of the SWAT Unit, reports directly to the CPD's Deputy Chief of Special Functions.

         The CPD issues each SWAT operator weapons and equipment pursuant to SWAT Standard Operating Procedures (“SOP”). Among the issued gear are ballistic entry vests, a radio, headset, gas mask, night vision goggles, helmet, a Glock 9mm gun, and an M-4 carbine rifle. However, many SWAT operators have specialized roles in addition to their basic SWAT duties, including snipers, breachers, and medics. Snipers are strategically positioned in the field to gather intelligence and may be required to use sharpshooting skills for a resolution. Breachers are skilled at breaching doors, windows, walls, and other obstructions that may be faced during a SWAT incident. Medics provide required medical services on the scene. Given these additional roles, specialists are required to have additional gear to perform their duties.

         The work schedule utilized by SWAT has been modified over the last several years. For the most part, however, SWAT has maintained a schedule in which, for a two-week period, two squads are assigned to work in “SORT cars” (Special Operations Response Time) and the other two squads are on a training cycle.[1] In the following two-week period, the two squads switch places. If a squad is on a two-week training cycle, it will typically train on six days and work in a SORT car on the other four work days in that cycle.

         When a squad is on its two-week SORT car cycle, the operators on that squad report for duty at Homan Square at the beginning of each of their shift. The two SWAT squads working SORT car shifts are broken down into different watches and shifts. SWAT operators are provided with 15 minutes at the beginning of their shift, on the clock, to transfer their weapons and gear into the SORT car. They then report to roll call inside Homan Square. About 30 to 45 minutes before the end of their shift, operators return to Homan Square and are provided with at least 15 minutes prior to the end of their shift, on the clock, to transfer and secure their weapons and gear out of SORT cars so that the SORT cars are available for the next shift.

         Critical Incident ...


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