The Chicago Police Department is 400 officers below authorized strength during a growing wave of violence on city streets, and officials must find ways to bolster the ranks, the head of the City Council’s Police and Fire Committee said yesterday. “We can’t keep up with the attrition,” said Ald. Isaac Carothers (29th), the Chicago Tribune reported. “A lot of officers are leaving, retiring. … We need to have more (recruit) classes. We have to hurry that process.”
Other cities have laid off officers because of budget concerns. Chicago deserves credit for avoiding that step despite its financial problems, he said.
Carothers said the city is budgeted for 13,600 officers, but the the current number of sworn officers is about 13,200. Department officials disagreed, asserting that manpower stands at 13,494, only 142 short of authorized strength.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Sun-Times repors that top police officials and aldermen in low-crime wards are resisting the redrawing of police beats to put more officers in high-crime areas, but Mayor Richard Daley is not budging.
Daley and police Supt. Terry Hillard have long vowed to change police beat borders to reflect the city’s changing crime and population patterns. Aldermen representing middle-class wards on the Northwest and Southwest sides, where crime is lower, would stand to lose squad carsto poorer districts with more crime.
Daley demanded this week to know what is holding up the changes, the Sun-Times said. But two high-level police officials said they don’t want to change the squad car boundaries in each of the city’s 25 police districts. Instead, they would like to expand on the department’s strategy of redeploying gang and tactical units to parts of the city suffering from spikes in gun violence.