The Chicago Police Department will hire 500 police officers in 2013, aldermen were told yesterday, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. Mayor Rahm Emanuel's plan to hire 125 officers per quarter was not enough to satisfy aldermen convinced Chicago needs at least 1,000 new officers to ease a manpower shortage they contend has hamstrung the city's ability to stop a 25 percent surge in homicides and a nine percent increase in shootings. They were not appeased by the argument made by the mayor's budget team that Chicago already has more police officers-per-capita than any other major city and that it's the first time since 2006 that the city has hired enough officers to keep pace with retirements for two straight years. Alderman Bob Fioretti noted that Emanuel balanced his first budget — and saved $82 million — by eliminating more than 1,400 police vacancies.
“We have an over-arching gang problem that keeps expanding every time we turn around. The murder rate is going up. Auto theft and bank robberies are going up. Police officers are being reactive. They don't even have enough time to fill out the paperwork. They need additional help. If you're only keeping pace with retirements, that's not additional help,” he said. Asked where he would find the $100 million needed to hire 1,000 more police officers, Fioretti said, “There's a move toward privatization and cutting. We've got to find innovative ways to pay for the appropriate city services.”