Chicago's Lightfoot under fire for allowing top aides time off ahead of deadly July 4th weekend

The mayor has vowed to tackle violent crime with an 'all hands on deck' approach

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is facing criticism for allowing two of her top aides to take time off ahead of the deadly Fourth of July weekend, despite vowing an "all hands on deck" strategy to addressing a surge in shootings across the city. 

Lightfoot’s chief of staff, Sybil Madison, told city workers in an email that he would be out of office the Thursday and Friday before the holiday, the Chicago Tribune reported. 

Sources told the newspaper that Lightfoot’s deputy mayor for public safety, John O’Malley, was also out of the office for most of the week leading up to the holiday weekend, which left at least 100 people shot and 18 killed.

Their absences appeared to have been already scheduled as Lightfoot, as well as Police Supt. David Brown, lamented that a City Council emergency meeting called on July 2 would distract from efforts to reduce street crime during what was anticipated to be the most violent weekend of the year, Fox 32 Chicago reported. 

Brown answered questions during the six-hour-long meeting on his summer public safety plan that includes canceling time off for officers. 

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Officers worked 12-hour shifts during the holiday weekend to increase street presence.  

"We were told the meeting we had last week was a waste of time, but your people are out of the office," South Side Alderman Anthony Beale told the Tribune, criticizing Lightfoot’s "poor leadership" in allowing her top deputies to be off "when we need them the most."

"[That] she allowed her staff to go on vacation … before what is traditionally the most dangerous weekend in the city of Chicago – is outrageous," Alderman Ray Lopez, who represents the 15th Ward, told Fox 32. "It shows there's a complete lack of commitment toward addressing the violence."

"We’ve heard about the ‘whole of government’ approach for weeks now," he echoed in separate remarks to the Tribune. "But I guess that doesn’t apply to the people responsible for actually creating the policies."

In response to the criticism, Lightfoot’s office issued a statement Friday as the mayor was returning from a political fundraising trip in California. 

"Working in the mayor's office is a 24/7, 365 job, and members of the mayor's senior staff are constantly connected," a spokesman wrote. "Those responsible for on-the-ground operations continued to execute over the holiday weekend, and the Chief of Staff and Deputy Chief of Staff were fully engaged every day."

Shortly after taking office in May 2019, Lightfoot banned top leadership at the police department from taking time off during the summer, arguing it set a bad example for rank-and-file officers.

Police Department statistics released Tuesday showed that at least 100 people were shot, 18 fatally, from the evening of Friday, July 2 through July 4. Eleven children – as young as 5 – were among the wounded. It was the most violent weekend of the year.

During a press conference Tuesday, Brown railed against the "out of control" court system for allowing people accused of violent crimes to be released back onto the streets. 

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"There are too many violent offenders and too little consequence in our courts. There are too many illegal guns in our city and too little consequences in the courts," the city’s top cop said. "The courts have created an unsafe environment for large crowd gatherings because you've released people charged with murder back into these same communities where they committed this heinous crime."

His remarks came a day before a Chicago police officer and two agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) were shot and wounded early Wednesday while riding in an undercover vehicle. 

Fox News’ Stephanie Pagones contributed to this report.