The Chicago Police Department is deploying as much of its force as possible to patrol the neighborhoods. But the bottom line continues to be: if Chicago cops retire next year at their current rate, the city will have fewer sworn police officers at this time next year. Mayor Richard M. Daley spoke about the police plan just one day before he will present his 2011 budget to the Chicago City Council.
"Our first priority remains to put more police officers on the street. Everyone knows that a greater ongoing police presence is important to the safety of all of our communities," said Mayor Daley.
The mayor called escalating violence in the city the most immediate, pressing problem facing Chicago neighborhoods. So despite the projected 2011 budget deficit, Mayor Daley said the city will conduct two additional police recruit classes next year adding 150 to 200 new officers to the force and street duty.
"Under the mayor's leadership, we're constantly looking at new strategies to deploy our officers better and better and we're doing that," said Chicago Police Department Superintendent Jody Weis.
Since 2008, the city has:
The mayor says that with next year's recruit classes of 200 officers, the city will have added around 800 officers to street duty in two years.
"I'm confused as to how the mayor came to these numbers and how he'll attempt to pull this off," said Mark Donahue, president of Fraternal Order of Police.
Donahue said the department is already 800 officers below full strength and the plan to train new cops will not keep up with the 400 to 500 police retirements expected in 2011.
"He's not gonna be able to keep up with the attrition rate that's going on now in the Chicago Police Department when he's talking about hiring between 150 and 200 officers next year," said Donahue.
The mayor's budget director conceded that next year's new hires will not keep pace with the retirement rate, which means another net loss of street cops. Mayor Daley said that's not unusual and manpower at police departments around the country is shrinking.
"Other cities are laying off fire, police, closing police stations, fire stations. Small cities, big cities, medium-sized cities all over the country," said Mayor Daley.
Chicago's 2011 deficit is projected in the neighborhood of $650 million. The mayor will present his plan for balancing the budget at city hall Wednesday. The mayor says the city spends over 70-percent of its money on police, fire and emergency services.
"Make it 10,000 (new officers). Everything is not enough. I mean, I'm telling you the parks, the schools, that's not enough. Family is not enough. Everybody knows that," said Mayor Daley. "Do taxpayers have enough money to pay more taxes? Do they? Do they have more money to pay taxes, the local, state and federal tax? Do they have more money to pay fees? I doubt it. I think America's families and individuals are suffering from the economy."