CITY HALL — A proposal to add police positions through the 2014 budget process got a tepid response from the head of the City Council's Committee on Public Safety Wednesday.
"We're hiring more police all the time," said Ald. James Balcer (11th), chairman of the Public Safety Committee. "I just had a graduation the other day."
Ald. James Cappleman said he an email to his ward over the weekend that he and a number of aldermen "are insisting on a commitment of more police officers on the street before we vote on the 2014 City Budget," which is expected to be submitted to the City Council in October.
Cappleman sent the email after a teen was shot at the corner of Broadway and Wilson Avenue.
"I haven't seen it," Balcer said of Cappleman's proposal. "I'll look into it."
Yet, while keeping an open mind, he made clear his resistance. "It's something we gotta look into," Balcer said. "I'm willing to work with all the people to look at the numbers. But again we are hiring police."
Mayor Rahm Emanuel called for the hiring of 457 police recruits in his 2013 budget a year ago, but Fraternal Order of Police President Mike Shields said that barely makes up for the approximately 500 police retirements a year. Even so, Balcer would not agree that the department needs to add more positions, not just more officers.
Cappleman's office did not return calls for comment.
North Siders have complained that the so-called citywide police violence-reduction initiative has diverted resources to more troubled neighborhoods, for instance leading to a spike in Lakeview burglaries.
By contrast, Englewood Ald. JoAnn Thompson (16th) said Wednesday she is satisfied with police deployment in her neighborhood.
"Englewood has two [police] stations here in the 16th Ward," she said. "There's a lot of police presence here."
Thompson made the statement at a news conference in which Whole Foods Market announced it would be opening an outlet in the area by 2016.
"They'll be safe," Thompson said. "63rd Street is already safe. It's a safe place to be."
She pointed to the annual July street fair on 63rd Street, which she said had gone off without incident for years.
Manuel is expected to present his 2014 budget proposal next month. He has maintained that he is keeping the Police Department at full force, without creating additional positions.