ROSELAND — The mayor defended his administration's policy on the use of overtime in the Police and Fire departments Wednesday.
Yet Mayor Rahm Emanuel drew a sharp distinction between the two. Citing Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago's testimony before budget hearings Monday, he pointed out that firefighter hiring was halted while the city worked through two lawsuits on race and sex discrimination. That led to $42 million in overtime this year, more than twice the budgeted amount.
Emanuel said the hiring process had resumed, and pointed to how he had attended a Fire Department promotion ceremony just this week.
Police overtime, Emanuel added, was a conscious decision by Supt. Garry McCarthy, who likewise addressed that in recent budget hearings.
"If the superintendent determines that he wants to tactically use overtime to saturate a neighborhood ... in foot patrols, that's what he does," Emanuel said. "My strategic goal is, when it comes to the City of Chicago, we have public safety throughout the city."
Emanuel did not address the argument that, with the department ringing up an estimated $93 million in overtime this year and budgeting $75 million for it in 2014, the city might want to hire more police officers, a position advocated by the Fraternal Order of Police.