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City Hiring Hundreds New Cops Signals Political Reversal

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Mayor Rahm Emanuel has contended for years that Chicago didn't need more cops, which is why the police hiring surge announced Wednesday represents a major political reversal.

But the mayor insisted that doesn't mean his old policy was wrong, CBS 2 Political Reporter Derrick Blakley finds.

Even as Chicago crime surged, Emanuel and his old police boss insisted more cops weren't necessary, that officers working overtime could keep the city safe. It's something Garry McCarthy still believes.

"We actually have enough if they're doing the right things at the right places at the right times," McCarthy said.

But just as the Laquan McDonald fiasco led Emanuel to ditch McCarthy, growing street violence led the mayor to abandon the overtime solution.

"We're facing, and we have to be direct, the city of Chicago is facing something we haven't seen. Something happened in the last nine months, which we need to address with additional response and additional resources," Emanuel said.

It's a plan that within two years, will add 500 street cops, plus 200 detectives, 112 sergeants and 50 lieutenants. But the net increase is just 570 cops,
since the department is already 400 below its authorized limit.

Where the officers will patrol won't be decided until they're ready. But Supt. Eddie Johnson says he plans to put 100 new officers per month through the police academy and pair them with veteran cops. Johnson says this is not a hold-the-line position, WBBM's Bob Roberts reports."These 970 positions are above what we are authorized for budgeted positions now. So as we have vacancies, that has nothing to do with this plan. Those vacancies will be filled."


So how much will it cost? Not the point, says the mayor.

"We as a city are paying for this today in lost lives," Emanuel said.

But will it work out? Some don't think so, and Tracy Siska of the Chicago Justice Project is one of them. "There's not a lot of research to show, though, that with an increase in the number of officers that there's an correlation to a reduction in crime. So I think it's a political answer it's not really focused on crime."

Real crime fighting, says Siska, requires social investment. To some extent, the mayor agrees, touting today's youth job fair and expanded mentoring
as part of his crime-fighting strategy.

"You cannot put this alone on the police," Emanuel said.

He insisted the cost of new cops will be covered in the 2017 budget, without new taxes, and points out relying on police overtime worked in 2013 and 2014, when murders hit record lows.

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