CHICAGO (CBS) — Top brass at the Chicago Police Department were asking aldermen to approve a sharply higher budget in 2018, to provide more money for sophisticated new technology and to hire new recruits.
Supt. Eddie Johnson and other Police Department leaders were at City Hall for budget hearings on Thursday, making their case for increased spending to help bring down violent crime.
Johnson started the department’s daylong budget hearing by saying the department is committed to reforms of policies and procedures, and stepping up ongoing training for officers.
The superintendent also said high-tech Strategic Decision Support Centers the department has been setting up at many police district stations are having an effect on violent crime. The so-called “situation rooms” are staffed 24 hours a day, and allow officers to monitor gunshot sensors, a network of surveillance cameras, the locations of police units, and incoming calls for service.
“Citywide, 18 out of our 22 police districts have had less shootings than they did in 2016. Seven of those districts have seen less shootings than they did in 2015, including Englewood. While that is great progress, we still have much more work ahead of us to do,” he said.
Some aldermen said their wards still need more officers on the streets, and the Emanuel administration is promising to graduate 100 new officers every month through the end of 2018.
The department also plans to equip every officer with body cameras by the end of this year, including mobile cell phone devices that can access the cameras in real time.
Earlier this month, Mayor Rahm Emanuel detailed part of the proposed 2018 budget for the Police Department – including $27 million for enhanced training and community policing; $5 million for hiring additional officers; and $100 million for overtime – a $20 million increase from 2017.
At Thursday’s budget hearing, Johnson acknowledged overtime is an issue. The superintendent said the plan to bolster the department’s ranks should reduce the need for so much overtime.
“One of the things that will help us moving forward is the roughly 1,000 officers that we’re hiring over two years. Once they matriculate through the system, then we’ll have more officers out on the streets, so we won’t have to utilize overtime quite as much,” he said. “There’s still a need for it, but we’ll just be more strategic.”
For the Emanuel administration, the bottom line is that necessary police reforms cost the department more to implement.
Budget hearings with city department heads were scheduled to wrap up on Friday. A public hearing on the budget has been scheduled for Wednesday at City Hall.
Aldermen would then begin voting on the budget in mid-November, and can present any proposed changes to the budget before a final vote on Nov. 21.