Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the city's top cop were hit with pleas, demands and tough questions from aldermen during the City Council's Budget Committee hearings on Wednesday.
The praise Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy had earned for his handling of the NATO summit this spring seemed like a fading memory as aldermen pressed him for solutions to the crime and violence scattered across their wards.
"I’m still trying to grasp what is that vision that you have where we’re gonna get violence down and murders down in the city," Solis said in the hearing, according to the Sun-Times.
Though the mayor and McCarthy are touting lower crime numbers after a spike this summer, not all aldermen are feeling the reprieve in their neighborhoods.
“When you get on TV and say in the month of July and August, shootings decreased or whatever you say, we don’t feel that. Not at all,” said Ald. Latasha Thomas (17th) quoted by the Sun-Times. Thomas' ward spans some of the city's poorest and most violent neighborhoods, including Englewood, West Englewood, and Chatham.
Last spring, Emanuel shifted 500 officers previously at desk jobs to high-crime areas in the city. As a continuation of his plan to add more police officers, the mayor wants to boost the police force by 500 by the end of 2013, though aldermen say it's still not enough. The city council wants an additional 500 officers on the street, calling the rate currently considered full-strength "not sufficient" according to CBS Chicago.
Defending the mayor's plan, McCarthy said tighter gun tracking, not necessarily more police, was the answer.
"There’s no studies that show that more cops means less murders. It’s what those officers are doing,” McCarthy said, according to CBS Chicago.
The Tribune reports that McCarthy wants changes to Illinois gun laws that would require gun owners to report when their weapons are lost, stolen or sold.
“The No. 1 source of those firearms is not Mississippi. It’s not Indiana. It’s not Wisconsin. It’s Cook County,” McCarthy said in the Tribune.
Chicago's police force, in numbers*:
- 13,500 - Strength of the police force as budgeted in 2010
- 12,000 - Current number of police on the force
- 500 - Number of police the mayor wants to add by the end of 2013
- 13,000 -Total number of police aldermen are requesting by the end of 2013
*numbers are approximate