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McCarthy sends mixed message on police hires

By Chris Bentley in News on Oct 7, 2011 4:40PM

AP Photo/Paul Beaty
Mayor Rahm Emanuel took the lead Thursday in an ongoing dance one might call the police department shuffle. He claimed to have delivered on his campaign promise to put 1,000 more police officers on the street — a statement disputed by the Fraternal Order of Police.

Further confusing matters, Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said the city would hire more police officers next year. A police department spokeswoman later clarified:

“What I’m saying is, he will not ask to hire a single officer until he feels the department is running as efficiently as possible, and he’s getting the most he can out of every officer.”

So McCarthy’s new hires? Apparently he was referring to the previously announced class of 50 new officers that will be assigned to patrol CTA buses and trains.

Those officers are on the CTA’s (troubled) dime, so McCarthy’s claiming them obscures his department’s own budget woes. McCarthy has said he would consider closing some police stations to help shave almost $200 million from the Police Department budget.

For Emanuel’s part, he said he has delivered on his promise even without any new hires:

“I’m only 132 days into a four-year term. But 1,019 officers have been applied from where they were before to the street,” he told a news conference at the Chicago Lawn District, where crime is down 25 percent.

Most of the officers “applied” to beat patrol came from specialized units that were already on the street. The shift amounts to a change in management style that has Emanuel’s administration and the Fraternal Order of Police stepping on each other's feet.