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Proposal to Hire More Cops Tabled in Budget Committee

By Ted Cox | November 25, 2013 3:00pm
 Aldermen Leslie Hairston and Ricardo Munoz talk after Monday's Budget Committee hearing.
Aldermen Leslie Hairston and Ricardo Munoz talk after Monday's Budget Committee hearing.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

CITY HALL — A proposal to hire more police officers rather than pay up to $100 million in overtime died in the Budget Committee Monday.

The measure, which would have diverted $25 million in the 2014 city budget to hire at least 200 and as many as 500 more officers, was tabled under a motion by Ald. James Balcer (11th), head of the Public Safety Committee.

"We're meeting attrition," Balcer said, pointing out that he had just attended a graduation ceremony for 108 new Chicago Police Department cadets that morning, making 742 new officers this year. He added that overtime provided "maximum flexibility" for the department.

Police Supt. Garry McCarthy earlier told budget hearings that the department was on pace to ring up $93 million in overtime this year, as part of continuing efforts to calm Chicago's street violence, and had $70 million budgeted for overtime next year.

Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd) led a movement to set aside $25 million from overtime and other revenue sources to hire what he estimated could be 500 more police officers. The Fraternal Order of Police union supported the increased hiring.

Budget Director Alexandra Holt testified Monday that, while a rookie officer has a salary of $43,000, total first-year costs of hiring that officer were $76,000.

"The costs begin to accumulate quite quickly," Holt added, with police salary topping $100,000 within four years.

Holt estimated that the $25 million Munoz proposed for hiring would yield only 200 additional officers.

The proposal never even got to an actual vote in the Budget Committee. Balcer moved to table it, and that motion passed, 18-4. Munoz, Aldermen Leslie Hairston (5th), Michael Chandler (24th) and Scott Waguespack (32nd) were the only ones voting against tabling the matter.

"It's gonna cost us money in the long run," Hairston said afterward.

"The budget director made her points, and we still disagreed," Munoz said. "I still believe that we need additional officers on the streets of Chicago."

"Clearly we have a structural deficiency in the number of officers we have," added Ald. John Arena (45th), citing the $93 million in overtime this year. Arena, however, did not have a vote as a member of the Budget Committee.

The 2014 budget now heads for passage before the full City Council on Tuesday.