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McCarthy says he plans to hire 450 to 500 Chicago police officers

Police Supt. Garry McCarthy welcomes class new recruits Monday July 2 2012 Chicago Police EducatiTraining Academy. | Chandler West~Sun-Times

Police Supt. Garry McCarthy welcomes a class of new recruits on Monday, July 2, 2012, at the Chicago Police Education and Training Academy. | Chandler West~Sun-Times

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Updated: August 4, 2012 6:28AM

Chicago police Supt. Garry McCarthy said Monday he plans to hire 450 to 500 officers this year to maintain the department’s current strength.

He has already hired 89 of them, including 46 recruits who graduated in April and 43 recruits who began training Monday at the police academy. The latest crop of recruits includes cops from other jurisdictions and veterans of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

McCarthy said he is trying to maintain a force of 12,500 sworn employees, including 9,600 officers. The 450 to 500 recruits will counterbalance expected retirements this year, he said.

The city will pay for the new officers with the money saved through retirements, McCarthy said.

“The money is already budgeted,” he said, noting that the retiring police officers have a far higher salary than the incoming cops.

Maintaining the status quo in hiring certainly will not satisfy the Fraternal Order of Police, which has been calling for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to boost the number of cops above the current level. In May, the FOP paid to put up billboards on the Kennedy, Dan Ryan and Stevenson expressways that said: “Keep Chicago Safe. Hire More Police Officers.”

Last year, the FOP cried foul over the way the mayor kept his campaign pledge to add 1,000 more officers to the city’s “most dangerous streets.” Instead of making new hires, Emanuel shifted officers to patrol work from existing citywide task forces and desk jobs.

The latest rookies will join a police department facing scrutiny over a surge in shootings and murders — and whether the department’s strategies are working.

Through the end of June, shootings were up 9 percent and murders were up 37 percent compared to the same period last year.

McCarthy insists crime is “going in the right direction.”

Other types of crime like robberies, rapes and burglaries are down compared with last year. And the superintendent pointed out that Chicago’s rise in shootings and murders peaked in mid-spring. Through the end of March, shootings were up 40 percent and murders up 66 percent compared to the same period of 2011.

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