CITY HALL — Moments after his refusal to hire more cops produced the main opposition to his 2014 budget, Mayor Rahm Emanuel defended the use of overtime in the Police Department.
"It puts more police on the street every night in the City of Chicago," Emanuel said Tuesday in a news conference after the 2014 budget passed by a vote of 45-5. All the aldermen who voted against were supporters of a proposal to divert $25 million to hire more cops.
Emanuel cited the 742 police cadets who've graduated this year as keeping up with retirements, adding that designating overtime gives more flexibility to Police Supt. Garry McCarthy and his district commanders.
Budget Director Alexandra Holt said $39 million of the $70 million budgeted for police overtime next year was earmarked for what the department calls its Violence Reduction Initiative, an attempt to cut Chicago's gun violence by saturating police in troubled areas.
According to Holt, $39 million would account for 620,000 patrol hours in overtime, but only 440,000 patrol hours in so-called straight time, due to other costs involved in hiring new officers, such as benefits.
"Not only does it give you more flexibility, but it actually buys you more police resources," Holt said.
The proposal to hire more police was tabled Monday in the last meeting of the Budget Committee before the council vote, but Ald. Carrie Austin (34th), chairman of the committee, promised to revisit the measure.