Chicago set to hire nearly 1,000 new cops at cost of $134mn - report

© Jim Young
Over the next two years, the Chicago Police Department will add 970 police officers, the largest police-hiring surge in America's third-largest city since 1986.

To address a boost in homicides, the Chicago Police Department (CPD) will add 516 patrol officers, 92 field-training officers, 112 sergeants, 50 lieutenants, and 200 detectives, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Initial costs per officer will be $138,000 for salary, benefits, and supervision, amounting to a total of nearly $134 million for the additional officers, the Sun-Times reported.

"The mayor has assured me that he will ensure that I get the resources I’m asking for at the end of the day. … He has assured me that he’ll get it done. Specifics of it, you’ll have to get from the budgeting office," Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told the Sun-Times in an exclusive interview.

"When I sat down as superintendent, one of the first things everybody asked me was, ‘Did we have enough police officers?’ We did an overall analysis of the department. … I took a real hard look at it and this is what I think we need to make Chicago safer. … It’s going to cost. But there’s no price for the safety of this city."

Adam Collins, communications director for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, said the mayor has been "very clear that his priority in the budget is going to be public safety" and that the additional officers will come "without an increase in general revenue taxes," including sales, property, and gasoline.

The hiring increase will set police staffing levels to those seen in 2011, when Emanuel took office, the Sun-Times reported. Emanuel campaigned in 2011 on adding 1,000 officers, but then only reshuffled officers that were already on staff. There are currently about 12,500 officers on the force, with 468 vacancies. There are 922 detectives now compared to 1,252 in 2008, Reuters recently reported.

The new officers will come from the more than 8,000 people who have recently passed a police exam, the Sun-Times reported. Officers spend six months in police academy before a year-long probationary period patrolling city streets.

"We’re putting the finishing touches on the plan, but what I can tell you is this: When we roll this out, we are going to have the personnel that we need, the staffing that we need and we’ll have the capacity to be able to handle that. There are different things being put in place to get to that end," Johnson said.

In 1986, 950 cops were added to the CPD, the largest increase since the latest proposal. During a three-year period in the mid-1990s, around 1,000 officers were added.

Emanuel and Chicago officials have previously sought to address alleged police shortages with more police overtime. The city paid out $116 million in overtime last year, a city record according to the Sun-Times. Meanwhile, retirements in the force have accelerated beyond new hiring.

"You don’t want to utilize overtime to the point that you burn your officers out," Johnson said. "We have to be mindful of that. We have to be mindful of their mental health and physical health."

Two days ago, Johnson announced that the CPD will train its officers in de-escalation tactics to avoid violent confrontations with the public and "build trust." One day prior to that announcement, Johnson revealed that all CPD officers will be equipped with body cameras by the end of 2018.

Johnson said that in his 28 years with the CPD, he has never seen "the level of disrespect for police officers" of the present.

"Law enforcement all over the country is being scrutinized like that," Johnson said. "Let’s be honest about it. They don’t want to be the next viral video that comes out. They have families to support and careers to think about."

In recent years, the CPD has been involved in some of the most high-profile police killings of citizens, mainly black men such as Laquan McDonald and Paul O'Neal, as outrage over policing and officer impunity across the US has reached new heights. In December, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) opened an investigation into the CPD's use-of-force policies and whether racial disparities exist in the practice of those policies.

The DoJ is also investigating the police killing of McDonald, 17, who was struck by 16 bullets during a confrontation with CPD in October 2014. More than a year later, Officer Jason Van Dyke, a 14-year veteran of the CPD, was charged with murder in the incident, the first time a cop in Chicago had faced such charges for an on-duty shooting. Later that day, the CPD released dashboard camera footage of the shooting.

Here are some of the other recent incidents involving Chicago police that RT has covered:

Chicago Police Shootings - Curated tweets by RT_America

The McDonald shooting was a turning point for the CPD, as it forced the city to become more transparent about officer-involved shootings and complaints of police brutality. In response, Mayor Emanuel announced “fundamental” changes to police practices and created a new accountability task force.

The Chicago Tribune recently reported that the CPD shoots at someone on average of once every five days. Over the last six years, the CPD has fired 2,623 bullets at citizens, killing 92 people and injuring 170 others, the Tribune found.

Chicago has been plagued by violence in recent years, with 3,122 shooting victims thus far in 2016 compared to 2,988 shooting victims in all of 2015, according to the Chicago Tribune.