Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is defending the approximately $136 million being spent this year to pay overtime to police and fire department personnel.
Emanuel told the Chicago Sun-Times editorial board the overtime is not designed to be a cost-saving management strategy. Emanuel said Wednesday the police overtime is designed to put more officers on the street to combat crime.
Chicago police chief Garry McCarthy has said his department is on track to spend $93 million in overtime this year -- nearly triple the amount originally budgeted -- but pushed back against an assertion that means there aren't enough officers.
"We are meeting with attrition and staying with it," he told members of the City Council's Budget Committee.
The city's top cop said 502 new police officers have been hired so far this year and he said he expected 450 officer retirements.
To fight a homicide rate that put Chicago in the national spotlight, as many as 400 officers each night have been working overtime and saturating high crime areas.
The mayor pointed out a 23 percent reduction in overall crime, and a 24 percent reduction in shootings and homicides compared to last year.
Emanuel said the $43 million in Fire Department overtime is a result of a hiring freeze that allowed the city to resolve two hiring discrimination lawsuits.
The city has agreed to hire 111 black firefighters bypassed by the city's discriminatory handling of a 1995 entrance exam.