After touting for weeks the planned hiring of 200 Chicago police officers next year, the city officials admitted that the new cops won’t even make up for the number of officers who will depart in 2011, reports the Chicago Tribune. The city will have about 950 vacant police officer positions at the end of this year, said Gene Munin, the city’s budget director. Although the city plans to hire 200 officers, it projects that 300 will leave the force.
If the city has more money than expected available next year, it could hire more officers, Munin said. “Everybody in the city would like to have more police officers,” Munin told aldermen at a City Council Finance Committee meeting. “The question is not, what do we want? The question is, what can we afford?” Munin addressed the issue as aldermen discussed asking voters in the Feb. 22 city election whether the city should fill all police officer positions in the budget. At an afternoon news conference to discuss a crime reduction strategy, police Superintendent Jody Weis responded with skepticism on whether budget problems would improve enough to clear the way for hiring more cops. “You’re not going to find a police chief in the United States who doesn’t want all of his vacancies filled,” Weis said. “But we also have to look into the question how are we going to pay for it? If the City Council can develop a way in which we can fund that, I’ll welcome those officers with open arms.”