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The [Thursday] Papers

"After years of insisting Chicago police could make do without adding officers, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration acknowledged Wednesday that the department needs hundreds more to combat the violence plaguing the city, announcing a plan to hire nearly 1,000 beat officers, detectives and supervisors over the next two years," the Tribune reports.

I welcome the Tribune's skeptical and probing voice in this piece, which stands in sharp contrast to most of the coverage I saw. But a quibble: To say that the administration "acknowledged" a need for more cops is to presume that more cops are necessary to "combat the violence." Not everyone agrees with that approach, including some criminologists and city council members.

Using that language also in effect endorses the mayor's plan, even amidst the (appropriate) skepticism. (Similarly, using the phrase "the mayor claimed" would cast doubt on what came next; that's why standard practice is insistent on almost always using the word "said.")

"Unlike previous promises to add officers to patrol by reassigning existing members of the department, Emanuel's announcement includes a complicated formula that sets a goal of reaching a net gain of 970 officers by the end of 2018. It's a tall order, given that for many years the city has not even hired enough officers to replace those who retire or leave."

Okay, just to be clear, Rahm fulfilled previous promises to add officers to patrol by reassigning officers from desk jobs instead of actually increasing members of the department, as he implied he would; he didn't simply promise to reassign existing members of the department. Let's not smooth over the deceit.

Now, as we shall see, we're not looking at a net gain of 970 patrol officers; we're looking at about 500 additional patrol officers who might not be additional at all because of said attrition - especially when you consider the long time-frame, over which budget realities and changing crime trends may come into play.

In other words, take this plan with a grain of salt the size of Rahm's ego.

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"[H]ow the department will pay for new officers - which will cost about $135 million annually in its early years - remained unclear. Emanuel pledged not to raise taxes to pay for police hiring."

Didn't he just raise taxes? I mean, tax revenue tends to be fungible - and it's not like he didn't know he was going to do this.

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For more on how much it costs to add police officers to the force, see this Chicago Justice Project issue brief.

Of course, whatever it takes to save lives, we should spend it. But do more officers result in saved lives - or even a lower crime rate? If so, why stop at 500 more street officers? Why not 600? Or 1,000? What size police force should we have if we want to bring the number of murders in the city down to zero?

"Social science research methods do exist to help the city determine the number of officers needed, yet when this research has been conducted for the CPD by academics or consultants, the completed results have not released to the public," CJP says.

"This leaves a void in the public discussion that is filled by sloppy news reporting that serves as an echo chamber for . . . cries for more officers, despite [an] inability to provide any fact-based findings to substantiate [these cries].

"In spite of media reporting to the contrary, an increase in officers does not automatically result in a decrease in street violence: regardless of what one hears and reads in media accounts, long-term violence prevention and the role police agencies play in that issue is murky."

And from CJP executive director Tracy Siska in Crain's in January 2015:

"[T]he Chicago Police Department has conducted manpower studies of this very kind at least twice since 2000. Unfortunately, it refuses to make these studies public, thereby depriving us of the very facts that ought to ground the debate.

"That refusal leaves a vacuum that self-serving politicians, police unions and lazy reporters are happy to fill with disingenuous half-truths about alleged staffing shortages . . .

"A quick internet search uncovers that police manpower and resource allocation studies are readily available from big and small cities across America."

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Back to the Trib:

"The announcement comes as the mayor and his police department have been under intense pressure to reverse the rising tide of violence ravaging the city's most vulnerable neighborhoods - a relentless drumbeat of grim news that has shaped a perception of the city nationally as a chaotic and dangerous place."

Remember, it was during Rahm's re-election campaign a year ago that he called Chuy Garcia's proposal to hire 1,000 new police officers "fairy dust."

And without the release of the city's staffing studies and/or any other research done by CPD and/or City Hall in the last year, combined with the move coming after a particularly bloody summer instead of before it, we can only surmise that this is more of a PR move than one motivated by a sincere policy review. It doesn't seem to be based on anything other than headlines. I mean, how did they come up with their numbers? Did they work backwards from a dollar amount? Did they consult old manpower studies - or conduct a new one? Or did they just bat it around over the weekend?

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Another clue as to how this is being stage-managed, despite yet another pledge of transparency from the mayor, is this:

"Emanuel's office and the Police Department did not reveal the cost of the additional officers or how the hires would be funded. Aldermen who were briefed said the mayor's aides did not tell them either."

During his 2015 re-election campaign, Rahm said of Chuy's police hiring plan: "Going back to a day in which you make pledges where you can't afford them will get us right back where we were before."

It seems we always end up back in the same place we were before. Aren't we there now?

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New SAT Hurting Neediest Students
"The College Board's own research turned up problems that troubled even the exam makers."

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report
Awwwwww inspiring.

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BeachBook

Judge Scolds Obama, Congress For Allowing Children To Face Deportation Without Lawyers.

Previously: Obama Planning Huge Deportation Sweep Of Immigrant Families, Deporter-In-Chief (see tweets), Low-Priority Immigrants Still Swept Up In Net Of Deportation.

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The Big Thing Missing From The New York Times' Gushing Story About This Strawberry Company.

Always check the clips.

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Why So Many Chicago Pigeons Have Missing Toes And Feet.

Because they play for the Bears?

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: In session.



Permalink

Posted on September 22, 2016


MUSIC - Blues Fest 2017.
TV - The Queen's Speech.
POLITICS - Psychopath CEOs Destroy Value.
SPORTS - Why Todd Frazier Should Lead Off.

BOOKS - The Fresh Air Fund's Complicated Racial Record.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - The Great Lakes Have Tsunamis.


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