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About 200 rookie cops will walk Chicago’s most dangerous neighborhoods

U.S. Sen. Dick Durb |  AP file photo

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin | AP file photo

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Updated: June 30, 2013 6:42AM

About 200 police rookies will be working foot patrols in Chicago’s most dangerous zones by the end of the summer — and the department will cut back sharply on veteran officers working overtime there, a top police official said Tuesday.

The 20 “impact zones,” mostly on the West and South sides, have contributed to the city already spending about two-thirds of the police overtime budget for 2013, the Chicago Sun-Times reported earlier this month. Crime has fallen sharply in the zones, according to the department.

The impact zones were drawn based on a three-year analysis of murders, shootings and robberies. They’re part of police Supt. Garry McCarthy’s larger violence-reduction strategy.

In March, the department doubled the number of veteran officers working overtime in the zones to 400 a day. They patrol the zones in cars on their days off. So far, at least 48 rookies have been assigned to foot patrols, spread among five of the zones.

The goal is a roughly equal split of rookies and veteran officers working overtime in all 20 zones by September, said Robert Tracy, chief of the department’s crime control strategies. Tracy said he envisions slightly more than 200 rookies and about 200 veterans in the zones by then.

On May 14, the department announced the graduation of 105 rookies from the police academy and said they would be assigned to Operation Impact after a three-month training program.

“It’s going to help reduce the overtime dramatically,” Tracy said. “We’re slowly going to withdraw the overtime as we put the probationary officers in the zones.”

In the impact zones, murders were down 56 percent, shootings were down 49 percent and overall crime was down 26 percent between Feb. 1 and Monday, compared to the same period last year, according to the department. Citywide, murder is down 35 percent so far this year and overall crime is down, too.

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