CHICAGO (CBS) -- The union representing Chicago Police officers has been calling for months on the city to hire more officers, even going so far to take billboard ads.
Now, according to a Chicago Sun-Times report, police Supt. Garry McCarthy is planning to do just that. But the goal is to maintain the current strength of the department rather than expand its manpower as the union is demanding.
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McCarthy tells the newspaper he plans to hire up to 500 new officers this year. The Sun-Times reports he has already made 89 hires.
All of the officers are new recruits. A total of 46 have already graduated from the Police Academy, while 43 began their training Monday.
Police officers who are moving from other jurisdictions, and veterans from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, are among the recruits, the Sun-Times reports.
McCarthy is trying to maintain a force of 12,500 sworn officers on the force. He says their salaries are already budgeted because the new hires will balance out the expected retirements, the Sun-Times reports.
In response, Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President Mike Shields said the department has a critical manpower shortage and is ignoring it.
Shields said, since McCarthy took over the department a little more than a year ago, the police force is down 700 officers, mainly due to retirement. He said failing to replace retired officers will mean more blood-spattered weekends.
"We need more officers hired, and the city of Chicago needs to stop balancing their budget at the expense of public safety," he said.
At the time, McCarthy dismissed the union's complaint about the overtime plan, saying he expected such rhetoric from a union that is pushing for the hiring of more officers.
"The justification for officers doesn't come from a budget line," he said. "It comes from crime analysis based on population ... and that was never done in this city. I am not going to go around and around on this argument."
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