According to the Chicago Sun-Times , Chicago Inspector General Joe Ferguson released a statement today concluding that the city police department could save up to $16.6 million annually by moving more police officers from desk jobs to street duty. Not only could the decision save money, but it could also help fight crime on the street, a major initiative of the mayor and the Chicago Police Department (CPD) after a particularly violent 2012.
Here are some facts and details about the Inspector General's proposal and what it could mean for the police department and Chicago if the city follows through:
* NBC Chicago reported that Ferguson's office reviewed 370 police officer positions and found that a total of 292 of those full-time positions could be filled by civilian workers.
* Those 292 sworn-in police officers could instead be shifted to street duty in order to help enforce the law in Chicago's neighborhoods.
* Ferguson's office looked at the tasks that those 370 positions were being required to complete and found everything from graphic design, accounting, data entry, grant-writing, and other administrative functions, all of which can be completed without police training, noted Crain's Chicago Business .
* According to an official press release , in determining which positions could handle a shift to civilian workers, the Inspector General's office asked four questions about each position: Does the position require the exercise of law enforcement powers? Are the skills of a sworn officer required to fulfill the duties? Would assigning sworn staff by helpful for other reasons? And can the requirements of the position be fulfilled by a trained civilian?
* The salary savings are estimated at 16 percent to 41 percent per position depending on the officer's current pay.
* The end result would be millions in annual savings ranging from $6.4 to $16.6 million for city taxpayers.
* Ferguson commented, "Our review revealed that that the City has a variety of options for civilianizing these positions. 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."
* Police Department Chief of Staff Constantine Miniotis has already responded to the Inspector General about the suggestion and said that while the CPD will take the suggestion into consideration, he is emphasizing that not all jobs can be switched from a police officer to a civilian.
* Miniotis also pointed out that the CPD utilizes civilian employment in numerous different areas, including detention aides, body removal, and ballistics lab staff.
Rachel Bogart provides an in-depth look at current environmental issues and local Chicago news stories. Currently pursuing her master's degree in environmental science, she applies her knowledge and passion to both topics to garner further public awareness.
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