CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Friday offered few specifics about his plan to hire more police officers, but said that alone won’t solve the gun violence crisis that led to the city’s deadliest month in two decades.
Although he didn’t specify how many new officers would be hired, Emanuel said the city’s improving fiscal conditions have allowed him to start working on a plan to put more officers on the streets as he crafts next year’s budget plan.
Emanuel said only reorganizing the Chicago Police Department and the additional tax revenue flowing in to the city’s coffers have made it possible.
“The fact is there are certain fiscal conditions that have improved in the city. As you noticed the other day, Fitch for the first time upgraded the city’s outlook financially, so we’ll be able to do things that before we were hamstrung,” he said.
It’s still unclear how many officers the mayor plans to hire, or why additional overtime – the mayor’s go-to answer for increasing patrols in recent years – is no longer working to tamp down violent crime.
The mayor said hiring more officers is only one part of needed changes to address homicides that last month hit a level not seen since 1996, with 90 people slain in August.
“It’s not just about more police, but it will include that, but it’s also about more resources for our children, more resources for our neighborhoods, and stiffer laws that reflect the values of the city,” he said.
The mayor and top police brass repeatedly have said the state needs stricter sentencing laws for repeat gun criminals, and they have sought a three-year mandatory minimum sentence for criminals convicted of using an illegal weapon while committing a crime.
Emanuel said he’ll give more details on the police hiring plan in a public safety address later this month.