Some Chicago aldermen are calling for up to 1,000 additional Chicago police officers to combat the headline-grabbing violence currently rocking the city, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
Last week, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s City Council floor leader, Ald. Pat O’Connor, explained that the mayor intends to hire “hundreds” of additional officers to quell the city’s spiking violence. Now, chairmen of the Black and Hispanic caucuses are calling for even more support.
So far this year, Chicago has seen 510 homicides and 2,953 shootings, the Chicago Tribune reports. New York and Los Angeles currently have fewer combined homicides than Chicago. August was the deadliest month in the city in 20 years.
Ald. Roderick Sawyer is calling for at least 500 additional officers, which would cost about $50 million. Sawyer proposed another property tax to pay for the plan.
On Wednesday, Mayor Emanuel said his 2017 budget would be “built around” the need for “a net increase in police officers.” However, it hasn’t been decided how many officers will be added.
The mayor is planning a “major address” on public safety Sept. 20 that will focus on what he has called the “four P’s”: police, prevention, penalties and parenting.
Emanuel explained that it’s important to put more cops on the street and “change laws associated with gun penalties” in order to “help back them and the neighborhood up.” He also stressed the need to “invest in more opportunities for our kids to learn right from wrong.”
According to the Sun-Times, the CPD spent $116.1 million on overtime in 2015, a 17.2 percent jump from 2014. Under Emanuel, police retirements have outpaced hiring by 975 officers.
Sawyer claims officers are overworked and fatigued, claiming that the city needs “a fresh crop of officers paired with experienced officers.”
Ald. George Cardenas, chairman of the Hispanic Caucus, agreed that 500 additional officers beyond the number needed to keep pace with retirements is the least the city can do to battle the city’s gang violence.
Cardenas explained that the city could shut down its 146 tax-increment-financing districts to get the necessary $50 million to $100 million to pay for the plan.
Meanwhile, Ald. John Arena, of the Progressive Caucus, is holding Emanuel to his 2011 campaign promise to add 1,000 new officers.
After being elected, Emanuel instead added 1,000 more “cops on the beat,” over half of them by disbanding special units. The other half were mostly officers reassigned from desk jobs to street duty. The mayor balanced his first budget by closing police stations and eliminating upwards of 1,400 police vacancies.
In the past, Emanuel has used runaway overtime to quell spiking violence. Last week, O’Connor changed course. Emanuel and his Budget Director Alex Holt had argued that overtime was a more flexible alternative to hiring new officers because it avoids the costs of pensions and benefits for new hires.
Arena said the hiring could be paid for, in part, by reducing runaway overtime. He also said he would seek approval from the Illinois General Assembly on a new city income tax that could generate up to $400 million annually.
Ald. Ed Burke, chairman of the Finance Committee, said he wants to look into hiring “auxiliary” cops. This is something he’s proposed, and gotten funding for, in the past. Nevertheless, nothing has come from those efforts.
Burke is open to use retired to Chicago police officers to bolster the force, noting that “we should be able to take advantage of those trained officers."