CHICAGO (CBS) — Over the next two years, the Chicago Police Department plans to hire enough new officers to fill approximately 470 existing vacancies, and expand its authorized strength by 500 officers.
Supt. Eddie Johnson detailed the hiring effort at a Wednesday afternoon press conference, CBS 2’s Mai Martinez reports.
Supt. Eddie Johnson said the plan is to hire 970 new officers over 2-years in addition to any current openings. That would raise the number of sworn Chicago police officers from the current 12,500 authorized to just over 13,500.
The move would allow the department to both keep up with attrition from retirements, and swell its ranks beyond current authorized strength.
The 970 new positions added over the next 24 months will include 516 patrol officers, including Marine Unit and Evidence Unit, 200 detectives, 112 sergeants, 50 lieutenants, and 92 field training officers.
The 516 new officers would be above the department’s current authorized strength. The remaining positions would be added through promotions from within, and promoted officers would be replaced with new hires.
Johnson said the new officers will go to areas experiencing higher rates of violent crimes to beef up presence and enforcement in those neighborhoods.
The hiring effort comes as the department has struggled to fight a significant increase in violent crime this year. The city already has surpassed 500 homicides this year, more than all of 2015, and is on pace for nearly 700, a total not seen in Chicago since 1998. Shootings also have skyrocketed, with more than 3,000 people wounded in shootings in 2016, compared to approximately 2,980 all of last year.
“We didn’t lose trust over night. we didn’t,” Johnson said. “So we’re not going gain it back overnight, but I think some of the things we were doing the last few months have shown the people of Chicago we are trying to be transparent and we are trying to get their trust back.”
As for who will fill those new positions, CPD said there is a pool of 8000 eligible candidates from the last police exam, and another is planned for next April.
The first wave of these new officers will be in the acadamy starting in January, which means the earliest they could be on the streets is June 2017.
According to Chicago Police Communications Director, Anthony Guglielmi, the department plans to hire 100 officers a month for 24 months starting next year, when retirements could spike, due to a contract provision that allows officers 55 and older to get a one-time offer of free health care if they retire. In recent years, the department has been able to keep pace with attrition though normal recruitment, but will need to step up hiring to do so in the next couple years.
The Emanuel administration has not said how the city would pay for all the new hires.
According to published reports, the cost of hiring a police officer is $138,000 in the first year; including salary, benefits, and supervision. Hiring 970 officers would cost $134 million in the first year. At least part of that cost could be covered by reducing overtime, which has spiked in recent years. The city paid out more than $116 million in police overtime last year.
Aldermen briefed on the plan Wednesday morning said there’s no price too high to combat the spike in violent crime.
“There’s no price for human life. You know, whatever it costs to keep people in this city safe,” Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) said. “This thing is rolling over. It’s not just in the minority neighborhoods, this is downtown. It’s all over the city of Chicago.”
Ald. Danny Solis (25th) said there is no question the department needs more officers, but other questions remain beyond swelling the ranks.
“I think a key question is going to be how those police officers are deployed into connecting with the communities,” he said.
Another alderman said, when it comes to the planned promotions, he wants to see a diverse group moving up the ranks.
CBS 2’s investigative report, Brad Edwards received reactions about this hiring plan from different neighborhoods highlighting the 16th district.
No one in the 16th claims their need is as great as other districts, but per our previous investigation, they were already promised more manpower. At the earliest, the 16th District get that by late next month.