CHICAGO (CBS) — At a time when the city is pushing to add more officers to the Chicago Police Department, there are hundreds of sworn officers who are not on the streets fighting crime.
CBS 2’s Mai Martinez reports, according to the Inspector General’s office, last year nearly 800 sworn officers were working in units that the Inspector General previously analyzed and told the city the majority of those jobs could be done by civilians, like clerical work and human resources.
Many of those jobs are based at the Chicago Police Department headquarters.
“A police officer who’s been trained to do police work is doing clerical, administrative work behind a desk. Now why would you ask the taxpayers for more when you’re not using what you have today well?” asked Mayor Rahm Emanuel back in January 2013, not long after the city inspector general examined 30 CPD units and identified 310 positions held by sworn police officers that could be filled by civilian workers.
Alderman Scott Waguespack of the 32nd Ward remembered the report’s findings and CPD’s response to them. “We were under the impression that they were making an effort to move these officers back out there where they should be,” he said.
In a 2016 News Release, CPD announced more than 150 officers were headed back to the streets as “part of Mayor Emanuel’s commitment to civilianize more than 300 positions at the police department.”
Despite the announcement, according to the Inspector General’s office, in 2017 the number of officers in those same units went up to 798, not down.
Ald. Waguespack said, “Those people should be out on the street. They’re sworn officers and they should be helping the other officers that are out there.” When CBS 2’s Mai Martinez asked him if he can think of any reason an HR officer would need to have a gun and badge, the alderman replied, “No, not at all. It’s beyond frustrating. We’ve been told one story for the last several years and what we keep seeing is that there’s a different side to the thing and it’s not truthful.”
The number of sworn officers in human resources jumped from 23 to 81. The Inspector General report also noted civilianizing the jobs could save the city between $6.4 million and $16.6 million a year.
Human Resources wasn’t the only unit to see a dramatic increase in officers The Field Services unit jumped from 37 to 132, and the Alternate Response Section ballooned from 36 to 149.
CBS 2’s Mai Martinez asked Ald. Waguespack, “Is it fair to ask taxpayers to pay new police officers when you have hundreds of them at headquarters that are doing clerical work, in some cases?”
He replied, “No, not at all and I think those dollars could be spent on other priorities.”
The Chicago Police Superintendent and the Mayor’s office did not want to comment on this story. The Chicago Police Department would not release the current number of officers in positions that could be civilianized.
Ald. Waguespack said he plans to bring up this issue at the budget hearing in October.