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Rahm Looks To Hire Hundreds Of Police Officers As Violence Soars

By Stephen Gossett in News on Sep 2, 2016 8:13PM

Getty Images / Photo: Scott Olson

Shortly after the passing of a historically bloody month that saw Chicago gun violence become the focus of national media attention again, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he will soon hire a wave of additional police officers.

Emanuel has not yet delivered details o the plan, and said he plans to address the issue at greater length at a conference on Sept. 20. But when reporters asked the mayor about the plan on Friday, Emanuel said he and the city’s top cop have been looking into the possibility for some time and the city’s finances can now support additional manpower. "I'm working, (Police) Superintendent Eddie Johnson and I have been working through this for a while," Emanuel said, according to the Tribune. "And we will have the resources for more officers."

Emanuel has not yet given a number, but the mayor’s floor leader, Ald. Pat O’Connor (40th) said the plan calls for “hundreds,” according to a Sun-Times article in which the story was first reported.

“We have a large number of police officers retiring and a big increase in crime and people demanding more cops,” said O’Connor. “We’re not gonna be able to keep up with attrition with the current numbers. We need to put more officers on the street.” But as the Tribune pointed out, Emanuel was unclear whether the additional hires would merely keep pace with attrition or increase the overall total.

Emanuel was criticized in 2014 by his opponent in the mayoral campaign, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, for not doing enough to add more officers to the streets—a proposition that Emanuel dismissed as financially imprudent at the time. Today’s news did not go unnoticed by Emanuel’s former political adversary.

At the same time, local activists—like some who helped establish Freedom Square this summer—have begun advocating more vocally for police divestment and reallocation of funds to social services, schools and housing.

CPD has long relied on expanded overtime to cover police needs, although the police union has called for officers to reject non-mandatory overtime this Labor Day weekend, in part to “protest the continued disrespect of Chicago Police Officers and the killings of Law Enforcement Officers across our country.” Anthony Guglielmi, Communications Director of Chicago Police Department, said the department will not suffer operational repercussions as a result.

August was the deadliest month in Chicago in two decades, with 90 homicides and 472 shooting victims, according to police data. Along with the skyrocketed tally, the high-profile murder of Nykea Aldridge—the 32-year-old cousin of Chicago Bull Dwanye Wade—and presidential candidate Donald Trump’s much-criticized reaction have further attracted national attention.