In a heavily promoted speech on Sept. 22, 2016, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel promised to add 500 rank-and-file police officers by the end of 2018 to help tamp down the city’s worst gun violence in two decades.
This year’s homicide numbers are almost as high as last year’s, but the city has added only a few dozen of those promised cops and instead focused on higher ranks, according to a WBEZ analysis of City Hall data.
A police spokesman says it is all part of a plan that will fulfill the mayor’s promises on time.
In addition to the cops at the police-officer rank, Emanuel promised to add more field training officers, detectives, sergeants and lieutenants. The department’s expansion would total 970 sworn members by the end of 2018, officials said.
As of last week, CPD had added just 51 of the promised 500 police officers, according to the data, obtained from the city’s Human Resources Department using the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.
And there had been little progress toward a promise of adding 112 sergeants. That rank had grown by just 7 cops since the mayor's speech.
But the city has moved quickly on the field trainers, detectives, and lieutenants. Looking at all sworn job titles, Chicago now has 376 of the promised 970 officers.
One reason the higher ranks have increased faster, according to spokesman Frank Giancamilli, is that it takes six months to train cadets before they can take their oath as police officers — compared to about six weeks to train veteran cops for promotions into job titles such as field trainer and detective. That creates a lag when field trainers and detectives are promoted from the police officer rank.
Giancamilli said the department prioritized adding the field trainers to provide guidance for the new Police Academy graduates. He said officials prioritized the detectives to improve clearance rates and ease workloads for investigating shootings and homicides on the South and West sides.
Giancamilli said the focus on adding lieutenants owes partly to their role in overseeing new high-tech intelligence centers in high-crime districts.
He said the academy will be graduating about 100 cadets a month through the end of next year.
The department loses an average of 475 officers per year across ranks as cops retire or leave for other reasons, according to the mayor’s 2017 budget.
Giancamilli said the department’s sworn ranks will total nearly 13,000 by the end of next year — just as the mayor promised.