A contingent of Chicago police officers are in Charlotte, N.C., this week for the Democratic National Convention, but their absence isn't affecting the number of officers on Chicago's streets, Supt. Garry McCarthy said.
The officers — about 50 of them, according to published reports — are working in the Tar Heel State on their days off, McCarthy said. He told reporters Tuesday the department would have been "roundly criticized in the law enforcement community" if they didn't send officers to Charlotte, given Chicago's NATO success.
"We set the gold standard of how to police these events," McCarthy said. "We have a format that we presented nationally, and we set the example."
McCarthy also said Charlotte's police chief requested Chicago officers in town. "They came here to help us, we're going there to help them."
"Our deployment remains at full strength here in Chicago," said department spokesman Melissa Stratton.
The officers were sent, she said, "as a matter of professional reciprocity," because officers from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department assisted Chicago's finest during the NATO Summit last May.
The officers are being paid under a federal Democratic National Committee grant, said Stratton.
Still, the move raised eyebrows from many who say the officers are needed back home where dozens have been shot in the last week.
"We had two homicides and dozens of shootings this weekend, and we're sending offices out of the city?" said Pat Camden, a spokesperson for the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, according to ABC News. "I think the average person would shake his head over that."
Last Friday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced an expansion of the city's partnership with federal authorities in an effort to reduce violent crime.