Mayoral candidate Gery Chico said Wednesday that he would put 2,000 new police officers on the street. And despite the city’s money problems, he insists that he can find the money to do it.
"People want police," Chico said. "It’s not really our prerogative to give it to them or not. People want to see police and they want to feel safe."
The former school and park district chief said he estimates the addition of 2,000 police officers would cost about $200 million, about three percent of the city budget.
"If you can’t modify three percent of the city budget, don’t apply for the job," he said. "You can’t get there by simply tinkering on the margins as is typically done in our city. You are going to have to restructure and overhaul the city budget. You're not going to do things that you did yesterday. You're going to be consolidating departments and merging activities."
"You're going to have a new footprint of government," he said.
Chico has received the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police, and beefing up the police ranks has been a consistent issue for the union in recent years. He said Wednesday he would phase the hires in over four years, with a cost of about $50 million per year.
In addition to the new hires, Chico said he would take gang leaders to court, prosecuting them as criminal enterprises and suing for damages.