Inspector General: 292 cops could move from desk to street duty - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

Inspector General: 292 cops could move from desk to street duty

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CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

Mayor Rahm Emanuel could save up to $16.6 million a year — and put another 292 police officers on the street to fight rising homicides and shootings — by shifting officers from desk jobs to street duty, the inspector general concluded Wednesday.

Emanuel has bragged about turning scores of police jobs over to civilians in his quest to honor his campaign promise to bolster the street contingent by 1,000 police officers.

But apparently, Emanuel and Police Supt. Garry McCarthy didn't look hard enough.

On Wednesday, Inspector General Joe Ferguson recommended that the Police Department "civilianize" 292 additional positions to save Chicago taxpayers anywhere from $6.4 million to $16.6 million a year.

Ferguson made the suggestion in a 58-page report that analyzed 30 different units — most of them "non-law enforcement" ­— within the Police Department's $1.25 billion-a-year bureaucracy

The 30 units employed 370 full-time employees. The inspector general concluded that 292 of those jobs could be turned over to civilians, freeing officers for street duty.

Sworn officers were performing "purely administrative tasks," including travel arrangements in the Finance Division, data entry in the Records Inquiry Section and nursing in the Medical Services section, the report states.

Police officers were also doing graphic design in the General Support division, accounting in the Bureau of Organized Crime, time-keeping in the first deputy's office and grant writing in the Research and Development Division, Ferguson claimed.

"The city has a variety of options for civilianizing these position. Doing so would not only save the city money. It would also allow CPD to re-deploy these and possibly other sworn officers to other high-priority missions," Ferguson was quoted as saying in a press release that accompanied his report.

"Chicago taxpayers have invested heavily in ensuring that CPD officers receive specialized law enforcement training. Using it to arrange travel or handle media requests doesn't comport with best practices or common sense."

Chicago ended 2012 with 506 homicides, a 16 percent increase over the year before. The murders and shootings have continued into the new year, prompting aldermen from across the city to continue to demand more police hiring beyond the 500 officers Emanuel plans to hire this year in hopes of keeping pace with retirements.

In his report, Ferguson concluded that the city could save anywhere from 16 percent to 41 percent for each position civilianized, depending on how much money the replacements were paid.

And the IG concluded the city would save money even if civilians were paid the same salaries as the officers they replaced, because of the "more generous fringe benefits" that sworn officers receive.

"All told, the city spends $1.8 billion on CPD operations, health care and pension costs," Ferguson wrote.

"Few duties are as important to the city as providing public safety for its residents. Because of the importance of those duties, it is imperative that they be subject to scrutiny."

In a written response to the inspector general's report, McCarthy welcomed the IG's recommendations.

"As evidenced by its re-deployment in the last 18 months, the CPD supports the use of civilians where and where appropriate in furtherance of the department's public safety mission," the superintendent wrote.

He added, "The Chicago Police Department supports civilianization of certain positions and is committed to reviewing whether the positions identified by the IG should be civilianized."

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