CHICAGO (CBS) — The number of Chicago Police officers on the street is at a 10-year high – so why are taxpayers still paying tens of millions of dollars in police overtime?
As CBS 2’s Megan Hickey dug into the Chicago Police Department’s checkbook on Tuesday, and sought to determine whether the overtime was really worth it.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot made it clear on Monday that the city can’t afford the nearly $70 million in overtime paid so far this year. And she asked why this is still a problem.
Nearly 350 officers joined the ranks of the Chicago Police Department just last week. Staffing levels are up more than 1,500 sworn officers since 2016.
“Each of you represent our two-year journey of growing CPD by over 1,000 police officers,” Supt. Eddie Johnson told the latest graduating class.
That all has Mayor Lori Lightfoot is feeling “really angry and frustrated.”
She is frustrated because the city spent $67.6 million on police overtime between January and the end of August this year. That’s less than the $80.6 million the city spent during that time last year.
But Lightfoot said that with the dramatic increase in staffing levels, it’s still way too much.
“We can’t afford it,” the mayor said. “I mean, the truth is we can’t afford it.”
It comes on the heels of a 2017 Inspector General Report that CPD was wasting millions in “costly and inefficient” taxpayer-funded overtime.
Chicago Police pledged to make changes and make supervisors accountable for managing OT.
The CPD has argued that the majority of overtime was necessary for their policing strategies.
This summer, the city focused on 60 so-called hotspots – contained within 35 different police beats. We did the math – total violent crimes in those areas were down from 2018.
But 15 of the 35 beats saw an increase in violent crimes, despite an “intense focus” by police.
Those spots include parts of Auburn Park, Jackson Park, and North Lawndale.
So what does the Office of Inspector General have to say? They told Hickey they are currently in the middle of another review of CPD’s overtime practices.
The office is expecting to release a full report early next month. We’ll be digging into those numbers as soon as they’re available.