Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel confirmed today that he would be adding more police officers to next year’s city budget, but didn’t say how many there would be, or how he’d pay for them.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported Thursday that Emanuel is planning to hire “hundreds” of additional police officers, according to the mayor’s floor leader, Ald. Pat O’Connor (40th). O’Connor told the Sun-Times that the officers would be added to the 2017 budget to combat a manpower shortage that can’t be addressed with overtime.
Friday, Emanuel told reporters that he would be holding on to the details until September 20, when he’ll give a speech on a “comprehensive” public safety strategy that he’s been working on with Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson.
“I’m telling you guys, if I put more officers on the street, but we have the same lax gun laws, we haven’t reached public safety. If we put more officers on the street but do not also invest in better mentoring and alternatives for our children, we have not solved this problem,” Emanuel said.
While Emanuel said the city would find “additional resources” for more officers, he didn’t give any details on where those resources would come from. When asked directly about it, the mayor pointed to past years when he has moved police officers from desk jobs to the street, or “civilianized” other jobs in the department, leaving open the possibility that the mayor’s office will again turn to that strategy.
Dean Angelo, Sr., the head of the union that represents 10,000 Chicago cops, said moving officers from desks to the street would not have any real impact.
“That’s not going to do much,” Fraternal Order of Police President Angelo said. “And you also have to remember you need officers in those police facilities that are armed and have the ability to protect that location.”
Angelo said hiring more patrol officers would move the department in the right direction, but said the city needed more than the “hundreds” reported by the Sun-Times.
Currently there are about 12,000 officers in the department.
“That’s not nearly enough. I remember we used to be consider at full staff at 13,500 members,” Angelo said. “I’d like to see another 2,000 people.”
Angelo also warned that they expect a big increase in retirements over the next few years.
Patrick Smith contributed to this report.