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Rahm moving 200 desk officers to streets

Mayor Rahm Emanuel Police Supt. Garry McCarthy announced redeployment 200 Chicago Police officers Thursday.  |  NBC5

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Supt. Garry McCarthy announced the redeployment of 200 Chicago Police officers Thursday. | NBC5

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Updated: March 2, 2013 12:15PM



Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel acknowledged Thursday that the city needs more police officers on the street, but he won’t ask taxpayers to pay for them until existing officers are being used effectively.

Emanuel and police Supt. Garry McCarthy announced plans to shift 200 more sworn officers from desk jobs to street duty and assign them to “area saturation” teams focusing on the gang violence that has drawn international attention with the death of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton.

The promising sophomore at King College Prep School was shot to death Tuesday afternoon while hanging out with a group of friends at Harsh Park in the North Kenwood neighborhood. Authorities on Wednesday increased to $24,000 the reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of her killer.

The murder of Hadiya, who once appeared in an anti-gang video message, has shined another unflattering spotlight on Chicago’s street violence because she was an honors student, a volleyball player and a majorette who had just performed with her high school band at President Barack Obama’s inauguration.

Emanuel campaigned on a promise to solve a severe manpower shortage by adding 1,000 police officers to patrol duty, 250 of them newly hired. But 500 of the officers he has returned to beat patrol have been reassigned from specialized units now disbanded, and 570 more were shifted from desk to street duty.

On Thursday, 200 more officers were moved from desk assignments, doubling area saturation teams that replaced the Mobile Strike Force, which McCarthy disbanded. But there’s a difference, what McCarthy calls “geographic integrity” — instead of swarming in, making mass arrests and leaving, the units will stay in the same area.

“It is the same objective (as) the strike force, saturating an area. Before a flame becomes a fire, you put it out. So, while it’s structurally and accountability-wise different, it has the same impact,” Emanuel said.

Last week, city Inspector General Joe Ferguson suggested that the city could save up to $16.6 million a year and put 292 officers on the street by shifting them from clerical and administrative jobs to patrol.

Emanuel credited the IG’s report with driving Thursday’s announcement, although the political heat generated by Hadiya’s killing may have moved up the timetable.

Sixty of the officers will be moved immediately, and all 200 will be on the street by March 31.

Emanuel’s plan to shift the 200 cops did not impress Fraternal Order of Police president Mike Shields, who called it “more smoke and mirrors” and “policing by press conference” from a mayor who balanced his first budget by eliminating 1,400 police vacancies.

The police union has been urging Emanuel to hire more officers, beyond the 500 the mayor has pledged to hire this year to keep pace with retirements.

“They’ve been talking for years about taking desk jobs away. (But) there are certain functions on the administrative side that can only be done by those who know the department. That’s sworn officers,” Shields said. “They can claim they can have civilians do these jobs, but it will take three civilians to do one Chicago police officer’s task.”



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