The head of Chicago's police union on Wednesday said Mayor Rahm Emanuel is playing a "shell game" with the city's budget numbers, and he claimed the mayor's hand-picked police superintendent is misleading when he throws $93 million of vacancies into mix.
"How does eliminating vacancies save $93 million when zero dollars were being spent on the vacant spots in the first place," Fraternal Order of Police President Mike Shields asked rhetorically in a phone conversation with NBC Chicago.
McCarthy said Tuesday he'd been asked to cut $190 million from the Police Department’s $1.3 billion annual budget and would only get halfway there by eliminating police vacancies.
There are about 13,500 budgeted positions and currently about 1,400 open positions. About 775 officers are on medical leave, a department spokeswoman said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
For Emanuel, the police budget predicament is perhaps the most likely to cause him anxiety; trying to provide better protection but spending tens of millions of dollars less making that happen.
"You can't close a $635 million budget by putting up signs saying, 'Do not trespass,' so we're going to make changes but it is not going to affect the amount of officers on the street," Emanuel said Wednesday at a press event to announce a $30.5 million grant to revitalize the community.
Emanuel and McCarthy say they've already moved 750 officers back onto beat patrol and pledged to do more -- Emanuel made a campaign pledge to put 1,000 more officers on the street -- but the FOP insists that will only happen if more officers are actually hired and more middle managers are fired.
"There is too much management on the Chicago Police Department. As you see the numbers in the rank and file shrinking, you don't see those numbers reflective on the command structure as well," said Shields.
Some aldermen are already pushing their own list of cuts, so the FOP has decided to go on the offensive, hiring its own experts to do an analysis of police spending. They plan to release their findings in about two weeks.
"We want to be a good partner" in the process, Shields said.