I see the City of Chicago is still pushing that “crime is down” line pretty hard these days.
Frank Main reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website last night:
Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said he will focus on the city’s continuing drop in overall crime when he addresses a City Council budget hearing Thursday…
McCarthy said he plans to tell aldermen that every major category of crime — including murder — is down this year. He’ll also point out that overall crime has fallen consistently over decades. Through Oct. 29, this year’s robbery, burglary and motor vehicle theft totals, for example, were the lowest in the city since 1966.
Not only is crime supposedly down in the “Windy City,” but the Chicago Police Department doesn’t need additional manpower according to Superintendent McCarthy. Main added:
He said the latest crime statistics show that the police department is able to reduce crime without hiring more cops.
“We will work with what we are given,” said McCarthy, who became superintendent in early 2011 after Emanuel took office. “We’ve got enough police. We have more police officers per capita than any large city in the country.”
(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)
Enter the folks over at the insightful Chicago police blog Second City Cop, and something they wrote earlier this month. SCC blogged on October 16:
Perception is part of the key to people “feeling safe.” The other part is actually being safe, having a visible patrol presence, being seen making arrests, performing traffic stops, and interacting with the public. That isn’t happening in most “safe” neighborhoods because the manpower has been stripped (or retired without replacement) from those areas.
Add in a massive reclassification of crime, increased response times to discourage reporting of crime, making the 3-1-1 (Alternate Response) a nightmare to navigate through and you have all the makings of betraying trust with the community when they can see the uptick in crimes with their own eyes and they no longer believe your numbers.
(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)
Before I exited the city in May, I myself witnessed CPD manpower being stripped from my police district (16th), heard stories about this “massive reclassification of crime”- “downgrade and reclassify”- from Chicago police officers, and read about/personally experienced the “nightmare” in interacting with the Chicago Police Department (procedural, not personnel).
The American author and humorist Mark Twain once said:
Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.
That could very well be the case here.
As for that “we’ve got enough police” statement, it’s no secret that the Chicago Police Department has been burning through massive amounts of funds budgeted for police overtime. John Byrne, Hal Dardick, and Bob Secter reported last week on the Chicago Tribune website:
Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s 2014 budget more than doubles the amount initially set aside for police overtime this year, reflecting the increasingly high financial cost of trying to tamp down gun violence on city streets.
The new spending blueprint anticipates $71 million in overtime for police next year, compared with the $32 million the mayor budgeted for 2013 — an estimate the city rapidly blew past in response to a wave of murders and shootings that drew unflattering national attention.
At what point does it make more sense to just hire additional police officers to address the ongoing manpower shortage? You see, having adequate overtime funds to pay cops to continue the “surge” in troubled areas of the city still doesn’t address the problem of manpower being stripped from the “safe” neighborhoods and criminals taking advantage of this situation- unless the City staffs these districts with the new hires. However, the Chicago Tribune reported just this Monday that:
The city plans to hire only enough new officers to keep the size of the force steady at about 12,500 officers.
But as I blogged back on October 26, 2012, the number of police officers in Chicago fell by about 1,000 in the prior six years.
Prior to Rahm becoming mayor, the previously budgeted strength of the Chicago Police Department was 13,500.
“We’ve got enough police.” That’s certainly debatable. Meanwhile, the “safe” neighborhoods remain juicy targets for criminal activity, and a number of Chicagoans will continue to not feel “safe,” despite what the “official” statistics may show.
By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)
Main, Frank. “Top cop touts good news: Every major category of crime down this year.” Chicago Sun-Times. 30 Oct. 2013. (http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/23441171-418/top-cop-touts-good-news-every-major-category-of-crime-down-this-year.html). 31 Oct. 2013.
SCC. “Crime Stats Are Not to be Believed.” Second City Cop. 16 Oct. 2013. (http://secondcitycop.blogspot.com/2013/10/crime-stats-are-not-to-be-believed.html). 31 Oct. 2013.
Byrne, John, Dardick, Hal, and Secter, Bob. “Emanuel to spend big on police OT in 2014.” Chicago Tribune. 23 Oct. 2013. (http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-10-23/news/ct-met-rahm-emanuel-budget-1024-20131024_1_police-ot-police-overtime-police-budget). 31 Oct. 2013.
Dardick, Hal and Ruthhart, Bill. “Proposed cigarette tax, police overtime draw council queries.” Chicago Tribune. 28 Oct. 2013. (http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-10-28/news/ct-met-emanuel-budget-1029-20131029_1_proposed-cigarette-tax-gun-violence-budget-director-alexandra-holt). 31 Oct. 2013.
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