Chicago Police Overtime: Department Blows Through Two-Thirds Of OT Budget In 3 Months

05/03/2013 01:44 pm ET
AP

With many Chicago police officers working extra hours as part of an initiative targeting some of the city's most violence-plagued neighborhoods, the extra boots on the ground have come with a lofty price tag.

According to a Sun-Times analysis, the Chicago Police Department already spent $21 million on officer overtime pay -- or two-thirds of its overtime budget for the entire year -- in only the first three months of 2013.

Much of the extra expense is thanks to the "Operation Impact" initiative which, beginning in February, put 200 officers on the streets to work overtime in 20 of the city's most violent "hot zones." The number of participating officers was doubled to 400 beginning in March, but their paychecks weren't even factored in to the Sun-Times analysis.

The fact that so much of the overtime money is already used up when summer has yet to even begin is troubling, particularly to Michael Shields, the head of Chicago's police union, who told WGN that the overtime pay initiative is a "Band-aid solution" at a time the department needs more hiring to keep up with attrition.

Others have been critical of CPD's overtime push. Maki Haberfeld, a former police officer, told WBEZ last month that officers working overtime in dangerous neighborhoods face an increased risk of substance abuse, divorce, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and other social problems.

If the funding is used up before summer as expected, a spokesman for Mayor Rahm Emanuel told the Sun-Times additional dollars will be allocated to the initiative.

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy has repeatedly emphasized that the police overtime initiative is just one of many tactics his department is employing to address violent crime in the city.

Though homicides so far this year in Chicago are down overall compared to 2012 numbers, the first night temperatures in the area rocketed past 80 degrees in Chicago on Tuesday, at least 20 people were wounded in shootings citywide over the course of about 10 hours. Three of the shooting victims died.

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