City officials last year applied for a federal grant that would have allowed them to add more than 1,700 new police officers to the rank and file, NBC Chicago has learned.
That's more than 300 more than was called for by a Chicago Crime Commission opinion released last September.
A police spokesman said he wasn't aware of the grant application so it's unclear if it's still being processed or was denied. Still, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and police Supt. Garry McCarthy have repeatedly said that hiring new officers wasn't necessary. The department currently has about 12,000 sworn officers.
"This is acknowledging that they actually lied to the public and they lied to us," Fraternal Order of Police President Mike Shields said Friday. "The Fraternal Order of Police has stood by the 13,500 [staffing number]. You've seen other groups come out saying that the correct amount is 13,500. ... Now, you see in documents filed for federal grant assistance for more police they're asking for seventeen hundred more, which actually brings them up to greater than 13,500."
Though those hundreds of officers haven't been hired, some areas of the city have seen increased police presence through the Violence Reduction Initiative the department implemented earlier this year.
Paid at time-and-a-half, roughly 400 police officers infiltrate 20 "impact zones" in the city from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. seven nights a week. Some officers are working every day, even on their furlough days, and depending on their rank are making up to $500 per night.
The department has an overtime budget of about $32 million. The Violence Reduction Initiative has already tapped about $21 million of that and it's only May.
McCarthy maintains the money is well-spent.
"What price do you put on somebody's child, somebody's son, from being a victim of gun violence?" he said.
Emanuel has said he will find the money to keep the city's streets safe, but some alderman wonder if it will be at the expense of other programs.
Additionally, there's concern over how much stress the officers can handle from working so much overtime.
"When we have people who work continuously, 16 hours a day or 15 hours a day or whatever, the impact on their families, their social life, their own psychology of what they see out there, the stress is enormous, then, on a police officer, and we may see that in other ways in terms of their own breakdown," said Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd). "We have to be careful and concerned with police officers."
Adding to the question of manpower: in recent weeks three key police executives -- Chief of Detectives Tom Byrne, Chief of Patrol Joe Patterson and Deputy Chief of Special Functions Tina Skahill -- have all announced they're retiring.
"We will miss officers like that," said Ald. Howard Brookins (21st). "We hope there's sufficient people coming up through the rank and file that can step into their places."