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Police Union: Budget Cuts Are A ‘Shell Game’

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CHICAGO (CBS) — City Hall is reportedly planning to chop tens of millions of dollars from the police budget, and achieve some of those cuts by eliminating vacancies.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports, the head of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police calls that “one huge shell game.”

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports

The reported plans call for cutting $190 million from the police budget. Half of the cuts would be achieved by eliminating vacant positions.

“This is similar to the Enron accounting practices,” said Chicago FOP President Mike Shields.

Shields says if the city thinks it will save $93 million by not filling vacant positions, the reality is those vacant positions weren’t really funded in the first place.

He adds that it’s “pivotal” that more officers are hired.

“And let’s not play this game, ‘more officers on the street,’” Shields said. “We need more officers, period, because there’s a lot of work that’s not getting done.”

Shields says the department is down 2,300 officers, “and the citizens of Chicago are now feeling that every single day in their neighborhoods.”

Shields says police officers have felt the manpower loss for the past couple of years, now the citizens are also feeling it.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported on Wednesday said police Supt. Garry McCarthy estimated a savings of $93 million if all vacant positions are cut. In total, there are about 13,500 budgeted positions for sworn officers, and about 1,400 vacancies, the Sun-Times reported.

On Wednesday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel emphasized that cuts to the police budget will not jeopardize public safety.

The mayor also said he remains committed to putting more officers on the streets. He has added 750 more cops by mostly reassigning them from desk duty.

He says his main target will be bureaucracy in the central office.

“We are putting officers on the street,” Emanuel said. “I have already done 750. We’re going to have more.”

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