Chicago Leads Biggest Cities in Cops Per Capita–Does it Need More?


Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s proposed budget for next year would boost the ranks of police officers a bit and then keep their numbers steady, but many aldermen, echoing their constituents’ concerns over the spike in violence this year, want even more cops hired, says the Chicago Tribune. The department’s staffing needs promise to be at the forefront today when police Superintendent Garry McCarthy appears before the City Council Budget Committee. Aldermen have called for more cops for years to no avail because of budget and tax concerns, but this time they will be armed with a more potent argument: a 25 percent increase in homicides through Monday compared with a year earlier.

Chicago already has the most officers per capita compared with the nation’s four other most populous cities — 454 officers for every 100,000 residents. Crime experts say how a police department mobilizes its officers is just as significant as how many it employs. “Having more would certainly help,” said James Alan Fox, a criminology professor at Northeastern University. “But how you deploy them is important.” In a year in which the mayor has sworn off a tax, fee or fine increase, McCarthy maintains the solution is not hiring a lot more cops. Instead, he has moved officers to parts of the city where he thinks they’re needed most, using gang intelligence, crime statistics and other data to identify those areas.

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