The Chicago Fraternal Order of Police on Wednesday dismissed Mayor Rahm Emanuel's call for massive cuts -- reportedly to the tune of $190 million of the Chicago Police Department's $1.3 billion budget -- as a "stunt."
Union spokesman Patrick Camden said the department is already drastically short of being fully staffed and, therefore, the numbers the mayor has thrown out "have no substance to them," as reported by WBEZ. Emanuel has pledged that the budget cuts will not impact the number of police officers working on the street.
"This money that he's talking about saving - that was never going to be spent anyway. So we're just playing a game of smoke and mirrors here," Camden added.
FOP president Michael Shields had even harsher words for the mayor, according to the Chicago Tribune. Shields said the move was indicative of "the Emanuel shuffle" that does not align with the new mayor's campaign promise to add 1,000 new officers to the streets of Chicago. Instead, the number of police officers has actually decreased slightly since the mayor took office this year.
Nonetheless, with the call for CPD budget cuts now out in the open, FOP has, according to NBC Chicago, hired their own experts to analyze police spending and create a plan identifying the cuts they would like to see. Judging by comments made to NBC, that plan, due for release in two weeks, is likely to focus on thinning the department's middle management.
"There is too much management on the Chicago Police Department. As you see the numbers in the rank and file shrinking, you don't see those numbers reflective on the command structure as well," Shields said.
Others also have their own ideas concerning how to keep Chicago's police costs low. Alderman Anthony Beale (9th), the former chairman of the City Council’s Police and Fire Committee, told the Chicago Sun-Times that officers should be assigned "when and where the crime is," thus allowing the force to operate on a leaner budget. Beale also has his eye on eliminating officers' $1,800-a-year uniform allowance, in addition to a $2,800-a-year lump sum payment they receive for essentially being on-call at all times.
"It has to be a conscious effort to make the unpopular decision to say, 'We’re gonna move officers around to where they’re most needed -- not where they’re most wanted.' If we’re gonna make the entire city safe, we can do it with less officers," Beale told the Sun-Times.
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