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200 Police Desk Officers To Go On Patrol

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UPDATED: 1/31/2013 – 5:45 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Facing one of its deadliest Januarys in a decade, Police Supt. Garry McCarthy announced on Thursday that 200 officers currently on desk duty will be put on the streets.

CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports the officers might have been heading back to patrol duty anyway, but were being rushed out there in response to the fatal shooting of a 15-year-old honor student, a mounting murder tally, and a distraught and frustrated mayor.

The officers will be redeployed to area headquarters with high incidents of gang violence and gun crimes. Mayor Rahm Emanuel and McCarthy made the announcement at a news conference on Thursday.

“This is part of a strategy that we have started from Day One: to make sure that we have our resources effectively and strategically applied to where we have our challenges,” the mayor said.

WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty reports the move follows the deadliest January for Chicago, in terms of murders, since 2002. As of Tuesday, Chicago had recorded at least 42 homicides for the month.

The homicides include the fatal shooting of a 15-year-old girl, who was an honor student and recently performed with her school’s marching band at President Obama’s inaugural.

Hadiya Pendleton was taking shelter from the rain with a group of 10 to 12 teenagers Tuesday afternoon, under a canopy in Vivian Gordon Harsh Park on the 4500 block of South Oakenwald Avenue, when a gunman opened fire on the group. Police said Hadiya was likely not the intended target.

“When any young person in our city is gunned down without reason, their death makes an impression on all of us, and it demands action from all of us,” Emanuel said in announcing the redeployment.

Civilians will take over the administrative duties currently performed by the officers being moved to the streets.

The mayor cited two reports from the city’s Inspector General’s office, identifying 428 officers doing jobs civilians could do just as well, and at a lower cost. Among them: 136 crime scene technicians, 35 IT specialists, 23 human resource workers, and 13 media affairs aides.

“We should have clerks doing clerical work. We don’t train people to be police officers, and have them doing clerical work,” McCarthy said.

CPD will immediately move 60 officers, with 30 officers going to Area Central and 15 officers reassigned to both Area North and Area South. The officers will join so-called area saturation teams, which flood a neighborhood after violent crime.

More officers will begin to be transferred in February, and all 200 will be moved from department headquarters and district offices into patrol positions by March 31.

McCarthy said the move should result in more effective police work, and help reduce gang violence and shootings.

Chicago Fraternal order of Police President Mike Shields said he thinks civilians won’t be able to manage the administrative duties these officers have been handling with the same effectiveness.

“I think it’s really going to take about three civilians to truly do the job of one skilled Chicago police officer,” he said.

“I don’t think that we should get rid of expertise, and experience, and knowledge of this job, and knowledge of what it takes to run a police department, and exchange that for people that … you don’t even know if these people that you’re hiring are gang bangers, or family of gang bangers,” he added. “You want them to be at the evidence recovered property room, handling drugs, cash, and weapons?”

The FOP repeatedly has said the city should hire more police officers, not simply move around existing officers.

But the mayor said, “In my view, you don’t ask taxpayers to pay for additional cops until you’ve made sure you’re using every cop on the payroll to date effectively and strategically.”

The mayor acknowledged the gun and gang problem was more than Chicago police can handle alone.

“I expect when we get a new U.S. Attorney, that the U.S. Attorney’s office would turn their attention to the gun activity, gun violence, and gang activity,” Emanuel said.

As opposed focusing to white collar crime and political corruption cases, where former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald made his reputation.

The mayor said he wants the feds to go after gang bangers the same way they did when they put the infamous El Rukns out of business more than 20 years ago.

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