Powerless to stem a record surge in homicides, the Chicago Police Department will employ a thousand more police officers over the next two years, despite budget difficulties in the third largest city in the United States.
The official announcement of the massive recruitment of police officers — 970 total — was made Wednesday by Eddie Johnson, recently appointed head of the Chicago Police Department (CPD).
I have considered the situation and I think that’s what we need to make Chicago safer, had previously said the boss of the CPD, quoted by the Sun-Times.
The new strategy, however, will have a cost, but the safety of this city is priceless, said Mr. Johnson, a Black man who will also have the difficult task of finding an answer to the accusations of brutality and racism targeting his department.
The police chief did not say how these extra forces would be funded.
Chicago currently has a 12,000-strong police force, with officers often working overtime in a city undermined by a war between extremely murderous gangs.
Overtime does not offer a long-term solution, told Christine Cole, of the Crime and Justice Institute. According to her, there is consensus among police experts on the fact that the CPD indeed suffers from under-staffing.
The city has already recorded more than 500 homicides in 2016, more than the combined homicides of Los Angeles and New York, the two largest cities in the country. Only 30 to 40% of cases of homicides are solved in Chicago.
Many people are victims of stray bullets fired by gangs settling scores with their rivals.
This was the case in August for Nykea Aldridge, the cousin of NBA star Dwyane Wade, who recently transferred to the Chicago Bulls. The woman was fatally injured while walking her child in her stroller.
Chicago police is also the target of a resounding federal investigation opened in December 2015 in the wake of the shocking shooting of a black teenager by a white police officer in 2014.
Chicago authorities had waited more than a year to make public the video showing the shooting. The incident had caused a shock wave and led to the dismissal of the previous police chief.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a former member of President Barack Obama’s cabinet, has found himself in trouble, accused of trying to cover up this scandal.