by Todd Feurer, CBS Chicago web producer
CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Lori Lightfoot is reopening two Chicago Police Department detective bureaus closed by her predecessor, Rahm Emanuel, seven years ago; and will merge the administrative functions of CPD, the Chicago Fire Department, and the Office of Emergency Management and Communications under a new Office of Public Safety Administration.
By combining the administrative offices of the three departments, Lightfoot’s office said the city would be able to move 151 police officers and 11 firefighters out of headquarters and back into the neighborhoods. The 280 civilian staff in those agencies will work out of Public Safety Headquarters in Bronzeville.
The consolidation is expected to span the next six months, with the new Office of Public Safety Administration officially launching next May. The mayor’s office is still working on picking an executive director to oversee the new agency.
“Through these reforms, we’re building a unified and collaborative public safety system to ensure Chicago’s first responders have the resources and supports they need to better keep our communities and residents safe,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “Today represents the next step in our ‘all-hands-on-deck’ strategy to not only maximize resources and expand emergency services, but also increase citywide efficiency in a coordinated and collective effort to create real, widespread and lasting public safety.”
In addition to the administrative overhaul for the city’s public safety departments, CPD will reopen two detective areas that were closed in 2012 — Harrison Area on the West Side and Grand Central Area on the Northwest Side — in an effort to allow detectives to spend more time investigating in the field and reduce overtime by cutting down on travel.
The city currently has three detective areas – Area North, Area Central, and Area South. It’s unclear if their names will change when Harrison Area and Grand Central Area reopened. The three existing detective areas were once called Belmont Area, Wentworth Area, and Calumet Area, respectively.
Emanuel closed the Harrison and Belmont area bureaus and three police district stations in 2012 in a cost-cutting move.
The mayor’s office announced the changes Friday, less than two weeks before she delivers her budget address to announce how she plans to close an $838 million city budget shortfall for 2020.
Consolidating the administrative offices is expected to save money over time by cutting down on overtime costs which have risen to $200 million this year.
The changes are subject to City Council approval.