Emanuel backs IG plan to move 292 more cops from desks to street
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org January 23, 2013 11:12AM
Inspector General Joe Ferguson
Updated: February 25, 2013 12:36PM
Mayor Rahm Emanuel vowed Wednesday to follow Inspector General Joe Ferguson’s recipe to save up to $16.6 million a year and put another 292 police officers on the street — by shifting sworn officers from desk jobs to street duty.
After a “complete review of police assignments,” Emanuel said Police Supt. Garry McCarthy has already reassigned “560 to 580” officers who were previously doing clerical and administrative jobs to patrol Chicago neighborhoods.
If Ferguson has identified even more police officers “pushing paper,” as Emanuel put it, the mayor said he would relish the opportunity to return those officers to street duty as well, so long as the police union contract does not prevent it.
“I welcome any report that says there’s another hundred, 200, 300, 150 additional officers that you can move from administrative office positions back onto the streets protecting our neighborhoods,” the mayor said.
Emanuel said he’s asked his staff and McCarthy to “immediately review” Ferguson’s report and “see if there’s anything here that we can act on.”
Chicago ended 2012 with 506 homicides, a 16 percent increase over the year before. The murders and shootings have continued into the new year, prompting aldermen from across the city to press their demand more police hiring beyond the 500 officers Emanuel plans to hire this year in hopes of keeping pace with retirements.
“I’ve got to make sure there’s not any ... contractual issues. If there aren’t, I’m gonna take a fresh look. ... It will be in line with what we started on Day One, which is to take police officers and move `em into the area of fighting crime and not into the area of moving paper and pushing paper,” the mayor said.
“I hope it’s all 300. ... Whatever it is, we’re gonna reassign those officers onto the streets if it makes sense.”
After analyzing 30 different units within the Chicago Police Department’s $1.25 billion-a-year bureaucracy, Ferguson recommended that Emanuel turn over 292 of the 370 full-time jobs currently held by sworn officers to civilians.
That would save Chicago taxpayers anywhere from $6.4 million to $16.6 million a year, depending on how much money the civilian replacements are paid.
The city would save money even if civilians were paid the same as the officers they replaced because of the “more generous fringe benefits” that sworn officers receive, Ferguson concluded.
Sworn officers were performing “purely administrative tasks,” including travel arrangements in the Finance Division, data entry in the Records Inquiry Section and nursing in the Medical Services section, the 58-page report states.
Police officers were also doing graphic design in the General Support division, accounting in the Bureau of Organized Crime, time-keeping in the first deputy’s office and grant writing in the Research and Development Division, Ferguson claimed.
“Chicago taxpayers have invested heavily in ensuring that CPD officers receive specialized law enforcement training. Using it to arrange travel or handle media requests doesn’t comport with best practices or common sense,” Ferguson was quoted as saying in a press release that accompanied his report.
“The city has a variety of options for civilianizing these positions. Doing so would not only save the city money. It would also allow CPD to re-deploy these and possibly other sworn officers to other high-priority missions.”
Emanuel’s wholehearted embrace of the IG’s report contrasts sharply with the Police Department’s more cautious written response.
In it, police officials wrote, “Wholesale civilianization fails to account for operational continuity and that law enforcement officers are more than individuals who make arrests.”
Police officials argued that Ferguson’s description of the 292 positions as “purely administrative” fails to account for the impact those officers have on overall department operations.
“Absent some exceptions, basically the determination centered on whether there is a requirement to enforce the law or make an arrest and, if not, the position was identified as a civilianization opportunity. This is a limited and narrow view of the function of police officers within the CPD as an operational enterprise,” the department response states.
“While some positions may be a direct exchange of sworn to civilian replacement, others do not so easily allow for civilianization in their entirety.”