Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the police deployment plan announced Tuesday is a "down payment" on his campaign promise to add a thousand officers to the street. But the police union immediately blasted the plan as a mere shift in existing manpower, which does nothing to increase the city’s actual crimefighting numbers.
Emanuel's plan re-assigns 500 officers currently assigned to the department’s Mobile Strike Forces, beginning this weekend.
Four hundred of the officers will return to patol units on the district level. The other hundred will be available to commanders in the city’s five police areas.
"You don’t fight crime from a bureaucracy, you fight it through a beat officer," Emanuel said. "This is a down payment on the anti-crime strategy, of redeploying our officers from specialized units, or desk jobs, to doing what they do best, and were trained to do."
Acting superintendant Garry McCarthy suggested that with the increase in badges on the street, he expects his commanders to produce results.
"What I’ve learned about police work, over the years, is the best way to run a police agency is to put resources out there, where the rubber meets the road," McCarthy said. "You can’t hold people accountable if they don’t have the resources to achieve their mission."
Not everyone was impressed. The leadership of the Fraternal Order of Police said the plan adds no new officers who weren’t already there. The FOP has long maintained the police department is undermanned, by as many as 2,000 officers.
"The department has taken hundreds of skilled street officers, and overnight, turned them into hundreds of skilled patrol officers," said FOP president Mike Shields. "What’s the difference?"
Emanuel sidestepped questions about whether he will find the money to increase the police ranks. And he said his promise to put a thousand officers on the street was never a flat-out guarantee that all would be new hires.
"I did talk about re-assigning officers and I laid out specifically that we were going to redeploy officers to put a thousand officers on the street."
The summer months frequently have marked the city’s highest crime periods. McCarthy was asked if the new officers will hit the streets with a guarantee that he “has their backs” to do their jobs. Some officers have complained that in the aftermath of recent scandals, they felt hamstrung in being aggressive on the job.
"I expect them to do their jobs," McCarthy said. "I will have their back, when they’re doing the right things. I want to be clear. I’m not going to defend indefensible behavior."
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