Local

McCarthy: No need for more cops in Chicago

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy says crime in the city has dropped 20 percent, and he expects that trend to continue.

McCarthy revealed the new statistics in an exclusive interview with ABC7 political reporter Charles Thomas. He said the drop in crime shows the police union is wrong when it says the city needs to hire more cops to keep the city safe.

For the unprecedented downward trend in the crime rate, the city's new police superintendent credits his and the mayor's strategy to move more police officers onto beats in high-crime neighborhoods. And he said no one has shown him so far why Chicago needs more cops.

McCarthy visited the 7th District and met with its commander Thursday. It was not his first visit to the district, but it was the first time he addressed patrol officers there at roll call.

"So if I'm going to hold him accountable for crime, I gotta give him the resources which means putting the cops in his hands," he said.

The patrol officers - some of whom have been redeployed from special units to beats in the 7th District - listened as their boss explained the Chicago police department's new strategy.

"We've been re-assigning cops to beats. That's been the goal, putting them in beats because as you heard me speaking to the officers, that's where it starts," said McCarthy.

The 7th Police District includes Englewood, which is statistically the most violent, murderous neighborhood in Chicago. McCarthy says there are 80 to 90 additional beat cops there than six months ago, and more are coming.

"We've seen a little more police presence in the last few months," said Robert Calvin, Englewood resident and 67th and Carpenter block club vice president.

Calvin likes what he sees the new officers doing.

"Makin' the rounds, up and down the alleys, on the street. If you don't have ID, they're stopping you and if you don't have identification they want to know who you are," he said.

But longtime Englewood resident Robert Lindsey III doubts any number of new cops can stop the killing.

"I don't see the change. I mean, honestly, they still shootin', they still doin' what they do," said Lindsey.

"I'm not going to let up, it's gonna take a long time before we get every single officer that we need into the places that we need," said McCarthy.

Having already redeployed 881 cops, McCarthy claims there are more currently on desk duty that should be in the street. And he dismissed the police unions repeated assertion that the department is 2,300 officers below its authorized strength of 13,500.

"I don't think that exists," the superintendent said. "Maybe in old-time policing it was important to talk about authorized strength. I don't know. It's a fabricated figure."

So McCarthy, who says the department is getting some of its best results ever with around 11,000 officers, says there will not be any increase in their numbers in the near term.

"We shouldn't hire another police officer until such time as we reach peak efficiency," he said.

The Fraternal Order of Police has called the redeployment strategy "smoke and mirrors" and says that crime trends cannot be established in a few weeks.

If the budget-challenged city can make do with around 11,000 cops as opposed to 13,500, that represents a huge savings in the hundreds of millions of dollars

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