Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy has been tasked with cutting $190 million from the department's $1.3 billion annual budget, and as he has said before, "everything" is on the table--including the potential closure of some city police stations.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that McCarthy is seriously considering closing some of the city's 25 stations -- a decision that could be politically volatile.
While no specific stations have yet been identified, McCarthy said that the "dynamic and complex" decision of which stations to close would be based on the demographics and crime rates in the district, as well as the age of the building. The idea, as reported by ABC 7, is that the station closures would allow for more police officers to be deployed to street duty without additional officers being hired.
While Mayor Rahm Emanuel promised during his campaign to put 1,000 additional cops on the city's streets, it has been difficult for CPD to do so while drastically trimming their budget. As a result, many cops, have been reassigned, from either administrative or special unit posts.
Though he has been criticized by some, most notably Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President Mike Shields, for not hiring new officers to join the force to help increase the number of cops on the streets, McCarthy told ABC 7 he "cannot possibly ask for one police officer to be hired until such time as I ensure that every resource in this agency is being used to 100 percent capacity, focused on the things we need to do, which is reduce crime and improve quality of life in this community."
Nearly two decades ago, Mayor Richard Daley suggested that the city close seven stations to save money. The idea, then, was widely criticized by community leaders, according to CBS Chicago, and Daley backed down, never to bring it up again.
According to the Sun-Times, police stations may not be the only closures city leadership is considering. Fire station and library closures are reportedly also on the table as the city looks to deal with its massive budget hole without turning to additional tax increases or one-time revenue sources.