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Stemming the Tide: Chicago to hire 970 officers to fight city’s surging violent crime

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The Chicago Police Department is set to hire 970 new officers, with Superintendent Eddie Johnson making the official announcement yesterday afternoon at the Chicago PD headquarters.

Currently staffed with over 12,000 officers, CPD has not seen a staff surge of this size in many years, with the current move being seen as a departure from Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s resistance to grow the department- normally opting to pay thousands of dollars in overtime.

The new hires will include 516 patrol officers, 92 field training officers, 200 detectives, 112 sergeants and 50 lieutenants, according to CNN.

“Don’t be misled, it’s going to take a whole lot of pieces to stem the violence that we have in the city,” Johnson said during a Tuesday night CPD roll call.

Chicago -which has some of the strictest local gun control laws in the nation- has seen a spike in the number of shootings and homicides, with August racking up over 90 homicides for the first time in 20 years. In 2016 alone, there have been over 2,500 shooting incidents in the Windy City, a 700 shooting jump over last year.

The city has so far seen more than 500 recorded homicides in 2016, and is well on track to surpass the 600-homicide mark that was last seen in 2003.

According to ABC 7, the decision to bolster the force will cost the city tens of millions of dollars, but is considered a necessary step to curb the violence.

“When I became superintendent I pledged that I would look at CPD from top to bottom to see what we could to do try and improve the city of Chicago,” Johnson said.

However, the plans have drawn some concern, even from supporters.

“There has to be an acknowledgement that the policies of the past five years have not worked,” said 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack.

Waguespack feels that while the city can afford the new officers, but feels that simply throwing new officers at the problem isn’t enough.

“The number one rule of government is to make sure you have public safety, a rule of law, and if you don’t have that you’re in big trouble. And I think that’s what we need to get back to,” he said.

Community leader and outspoken gun control advocate Father Michael Pfleger says that there is more to be done.

“We can’t police our way out of this. If we don’t also put the same kind of commitment to jobs, to economic development, housing, to good schools then, you know, we’re going to find ourselves with the same problem we have right now,” Pfleger said.

While Mayor Rahm Emanuel was expected to give a speech on Tuesday, the event will take place on Thursday. During the speech, he is expected to outline a detailed plan on how he is going to utilize the surge in officers to clean up Chicago.

The entry pay for a new Chicago police officer is around $46,000, with 500 officers totaling around $23 million, excluding benefits, pensions and overtime.

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