If there was any part of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s proposed 2013 city budget that aldermen might question, it was the number of police on the street. Murders are up this year citywide and several aldermen say Chicago needs more cops. There are about 1,000 fewer police officers in the CPD today than five years ago.
But Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy was only partly scathed at a council budget committee hearing today, suggesting aldermen will not revise Emanuel’s budget in order to hire more police.
Council members did question how Emanuel and McCarthy arrived at the figure of having 12,500 officers by the end of 2013.
Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) asked the police head if there was a “written formal analysis” on staffing. McCarthy responded there was not.
“I’m trying to do my research,” Waguespack told McCarthy, “I’m relying on you.”
Ald. Rick Munoz (22nd) also asked what “analysis” McCarthy used to hit the 12,500 number, which means hiring 457 officers by the end of this year and an additional 500 officers in the 2013 budget.
“It’s not an analysis; It’s a process” McCarthy replied. “It’s looking at it and feeling that we have the right numbers at the right places.”
Asked later if he was satisfied by McCarthy’s answer, Munoz said, “Hell, no.”
“I asked him for the methodology,” Munoz told Progress Illinois. “I’m not asking for any state secrets.”
Munoz was also upset that aldermen only get two rounds of questioning, ten minutes for the first round and five minutes for the second. Many of the aldermen’s questions were more about neighborhood matters than the city’s overall budget vision.
“I think they are pressing their own peeves,” Munoz said of his some his colleagues questions.
Those peeves reflect a segregated city with crime issues that differ dramatically between neighborhoods
Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) who presides over the mostly affluent near North Side neighborhoods pressed McCarthy on “vagrants” and “aggressive pan handlers.” Reilly noted that such activity gives a bad impression to city tourists.
Ald. Willie Cochran (20th), who mainly represents the more crime-ridden South Side Woodlawn neighborhood, had different issues. “The reality is that men and women are not getting the services they need because they are not enough officers out there,” the alderman claimed.
McCarthy defended the planned staffing level in a few ways.
The superintendent asserted that Chicago has more police per capita than every city in the country except three: Baltimore, Newark, New Jersey and Washington, D.C.
McCarthy also stressed that, “no studies show more cops mean less murders.” He also pointed out that while murder is up 22 percent this year compared to last, other serious crimes such as burglary, sexual assault and battery are down.
But McCarthy also acknowledged Chicago has some specific problems. For example, the city recovers three times as many guns each year as Los Angeles and nine times as many as New York.
According to McCarthy, absent stricter federal and state gun laws, a police strategy increasingly focused on gangs and community policing will lower the murder rate.
Ald. Danny Solis (25th) pressed McCarthy on how to measure something as “general” sounding as community policing. McCarthy responded saying, “We think we’ve put the structure in place” and are now “figuring out the metrics.”
As McCarthy puts these strategies into place, the full council is expected to approve the mayor’s budget in November.