Reeling from Chicago’s deadliest month in 20 years and facing criticism about his new police oversight plan, Mayor Rahm Emanuel tried to change the subject Friday by floating the vague notion of hiring more cops to fight the city’s scourge of shootings.
But Emanuel would not say where he’d find the money for the officers or whether the new cops would be enough to keep up with the hundreds who have left the Police Department or are expected to retire.
Instead, the mayor talked generally about “putting more police on the street” and offered a series of elusive answers when pressed for the details.
“I’m working, (Police) Superintendent Eddie Johnson and I have been working through this for a while,” said Emanuel, who noted he is planning a Sept. 20 speech on policing. “And we will have the resources for more officers.”
The mayor was asked if he was just talking about keeping up with Police Department attrition or actually hiring new cops to patrol the city’s most violent neighborhoods, with a reporter noting that CPD currently has around 400 vacancies for sworn officers.
“That’s not true. That’s not true,” Emanuel responded.
Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Gugliemi, however, said the department is about 468 cops short of full staffing _ which is 12,600 sworn officers. Gugliemi said an additional 100 officers just graduated from the academy and an average of 200 to 300 officers retire each year.
In raising the notion of hiring more cops, Emanuel also stressed his usual talking points of needing stronger gun laws and more investment in struggling neighborhoods.
“It is a complex problem with multidimensional facets to it,” the mayor said of the city’s surging homicide numbers. “It’s not just about more police, but it will include that. But it’s also about more resources for our children, more resources for our neighborhoods, and stiffer laws that reflect the values of our city.”
Talk of hiring more cops allowed Emanuel to pivot from what has been a less-than-desirable week of news for his administration on the city’s policing front.
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SOURCE: Chicago Tribune, John Byrne, Hal Dardick and Bill Ruthhart