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Mayor Emanuel: ‘more police...doing policing’ despite stats showing fewer beat cops

Chicago Police graduaticeremony Navy Pier GrBallroom for 56 police recruits first class graduate from Police Academy since Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Chicago Police graduation ceremony at Navy Pier Grand Ballroom for 56 police recruits, the first class to graduate from the Police Academy since Mayor Rahm Emanuel took office, Wednesday, April 11, 2012. | John H. White~Chicago Sun-Times.

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Updated: February 6, 2013 6:10AM

Mayor Rahm Emanuel insisted Friday that Chicago has “more police on the street doing policing” than when he took office, despite records that show the majority of police districts have fewer beat officers on patrol than they did two years ago.

“We have more police on the street doing policing than we had when I started. . . . We took about 560 to 570 officers who were doing clerical work and moved `em onto the street. It’s a fact,” the mayor said.

“While there are retirements, we have also now started up the cadets. We did a graduation, I think it was Dec. 17th. I’ll be going to another one in late January and we’re gonna have one about every six weeks,” Emanuel said. “There’s about 400-plus police officers in the training. So, we will always be at full-strength of 9,765 officers.”

Emanuel also noted that he has gone to three graduations for police sergeants, which hasn’t happened in Chicago since 2006.

“Not only in beat officers are we gonna stay at full-strength. We have the cadet recruitment to do that and maintain that. That is also true of sergeants because you need the leadership” the mayor said.

By late October, Chicago had passed its homicide total for all of 2011. The city ended 2012 with 506 homicides, a 16 percent increase over the year before. Emanuel was careful not to mention that statistic.

“I know we have moved more officers onto the street. And I know we have the recruitment as well as the operations to have ourselves at full strength, which is how you get the city leading the country in the nine percent reduction in [overall] crime,” he said.

“Burglaries are down 15 percent. Auto theft is down. Robberies are down. And you don’t get that by having fewer officers. You get that by more officers on the street doing exactly…what they’re supposed to be doing.”

Emanuel campaigned on a promise to add 1,000 police officers not now on the street. Instead, he has reassigned 1,019 police officers to beat patrol, half of whom already had been on the street in now-disbanded specialized units.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported last month that, as of Oct. 15, a total of 6,638 rank-and-file officers were assigned to police beats citywide, down from 6,746 beat cops at the start of 2011.

While nine districts now have more officers, most districts have fewer officers on the beat than before Emanuel and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy reassigned hundreds of officers, records show.

The reason is simple: For every newly-hired officer assigned to a beat during the past two years, six other sworn officers have retired. And because about 1,200 retirements have sharply depleted the payroll, rank-and-file police staffing even in some high-crime areas where new officers were added last year is again declining, the Sun-Times found.

Fourteen districts lost ground, with six of them more than 20 officers down. Only five districts had more officers on the beat than they did before Emanuel took office.

Under fire to reverse a surge in homicides that has drawn national media attention, Emanuel promised to hire 450 officers by Dec. 31 and 500 officers this year to reach an authorized strength of 12,538 officers.

But, Fraternal Order of Police President Mike Shields has said the city could be hard pressed to keep pace with the number of officers walking out the door.

Shields also said he was baffled by the mayor’s 9,765-figure for what characterizes full-strength.

“Never has the city of Chicago isolated the number for just patrolmen when they speak publicly of authorized strength. This is another example of the city playing a numbers game and trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the citizens of Chicago,” he said. “There are only two people in Chicago who believe we have enough manpower: Superintendent McCarthy and the mayor himself.”

Late Friday, Emanuel spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton said the department had 6,541 officers “on patrol working in districts” when Emanuel took office in May 2011. She said the figure rose to 6,552 as of Monday — a gain of 11 officers.

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