Mayor Rahm Emanuel plans to hire 500 additional police officers, promote hundreds of cops to sergeant and detective, and spend more on programs that help youth growing up in some of Chicago’s most violent neighborhoods, according to several sources familiar with the proposal.
Details of the mayor’s blueprint began to emerge Tuesday night in advance of Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson’s expected announcement Wednesday of the hiring portion of the plan.
For more than two weeks, one of the questions about Emanuel’s policing push has been whether he will hire to keep up with officer retirements and departures or increase the size of the force. Sources said the 500 officers would be above the level of attrition.
On top of the hires, Johnson is expected to announce an effort to beef up the number of sergeants and detectives in the department by promoting officers from within, sources said. The goal, they said, then would be to replace those promoted officers with new hires.
Emanuel’s overall plan also would include more money for recruiting and training new officers, a source with knowledge of the plan said. And when Emanuel gives what he’s called a “major address” on policing Thursday evening, he is expected to include more money for community efforts aimed at creating more mentorship and education opportunities for disadvantaged youth, a source said.
For Emanuel, the move marks a change in course in how he’s managed the policing of Chicago. Emanuel has insisted for years that the current number of officers has been enough to fight crime in the city, and the mayor instead has relied on upward of $100 million a year in overtime to provide enough officers in the city’s most crime-ridden neighborhoods during the typically more violent summer months.
The mayor’s police hiring comes as Chicago has endured a major uptick in shootings and slayings. More than 3,000 people already have been shot in the city this year, a number that already has surpassed the 2,980 people shot last year. Similarly, Chicago topped 500 homicides early this month after tallying 481 in all of 2015, according to Tribune data.
While it was unclear Tuesday night exactly how much Emanuel’s policing plan would cost or how he would pay for it, it’s unlikely the full bill would come due in the first year or two. That’s because CPD already is struggling to bring in enough new officers through the academy to keep up with attrition.
Earlier this month, Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the department is about 468 cops short of full staffing — which is 12,600 sworn officers. Guglielmi said an additional 100 officers recently graduated from the academy and an average of 200 to 300 officers retire each year.
The cost of a new police officer is $138,000 in the first year, which includes salary, supervision and other benefits, city budget spokeswoman Molly Poppe said. After five years on the force, the cost of that officer rises to $180,000.
Given those numbers, hiring 500 additional officers would cost $69 million for their first year of employment and rise to $90 million by the fifth year. Promoting officers to higher posts also would cost more, as would hiring their replacements and providing additional money for the police academy and training.
Asked about possible funding sources for more officers, Poppe reiterated that Emanuel has said the 2017 city budget would not include any property, sales or gas taxes to pay for officers. That, however, does not rule out other possible taxes and fee increases.
Emanuel first raised the prospect of hiring more officers on Sept. 2, though he has remained vague on the details and whether the number of hired officers would exceed retirements and attrition.
The mayor recently said he has been meeting for weeks with Johnson about hiring officers. But each time he addressed the issue, Emanuel also was quick to seize on the need for stronger gun laws and more investment in struggling neighborhoods as other keys to addressing the city’s surging crime.
“It’s a complex problem with multidimensional facets to it,” Emanuel said this month when noting he’d unveil a policing plan. “It’s not just about more police, but it will include that. But it’s also about more resources for our children, more resources for our neighborhoods and stiffer laws that reflect the values of our city.”
Emanuel’s decision to hire more officers also came after some members of the City Council’s Black Caucus discussed adding funding for more cops.
“Specifically the number I’m throwing out is about 500,” Ald. Howard Brookins, 21st, said nearly three weeks ago. “And would there be a stomach to raise taxes to do that.”
After a gut check, Emanuel appears to have found one.
Chicago Tribune’s Jeremy Gorner contributed.
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