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Chicago Police Supt. McCarthy Balks At Hiring More Cops

By Chuck Sudo in News on Nov 2, 2013 4:00PM

Photo credit: Rotating Frame

Despite growing calls from local aldermen to hire more police officers, Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said he has enough manpower at his disposal to combat the city's violent crime.

McCarthy made his comments during City Council budget hearings Thursday while defending police overtime costs for his “saturation policy” to fighting violent crime in designated “hot spot” neighborhoods.

According to the Chicago Tribune, McCarthy said police overtime costs currently stand at $70 million. McCarthy also estimated that those costs would reach $93 million by year's end. Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s 2014 budget, however, calls for hiring only enough to replace retiring officers.

The city's police department budgeted for 500 new hires last year, but Chicago aldermen believe 1,000 more new officers would both alleviate an understaffed workforce and keep overtime costs down.

McCarthy cites the reductions in overall violent crime and the homicide rate this year as proof to the contrary. "We've got adequate resources, and we're making a difference," McCarthy said. Yet the murder rate is down only slightly from last year and is still the highest among major American cities.

Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd) is among a group of aldermen who want the city to allocate $50 million to hire 1,000 more cops and pointed to the current overtime rate to emphasize the point.

“Talk to any management consultant, and they will tell you an organization the size of the Police Department should have a 3 to 31/2 percent overtime budget," Munoz said during a break in the hearing, noting that the Police Department has a proposed budget next year of about $1.29 billion. "We're looking at almost a 10 percent overtime budget here."

McCarthy's stance is markedly different from that of the Chicago Fire Department, which is holding its first firefighters entrance exam in eight years because of escalating overtime costs.

The Fire Department will spend an estimated $20 million in overtime costs this year and is projected to reach $35.3 million next year.