The Chicago Police Department has far fewer civilian employees per capita than other major U.S. cities, according to Justice Department figures.
Chicago had 32 civilians working on the department for every 100,000 people in the city, compared with 74 civilians per capita in Los Angeles and 181 in New York City, according to 2014 data.
Meanwhile, Chicago had about 444 sworn police officers per 100,000 people, in contrast to 257 in Los Angeles and 414 in New York.
That means sworn officers in Chicago are doing more of the department’s administrative duties here than in those other major cities, officials say.
On Wednesday, the Chicago Police Department said it’s about halfway done in its first wave of “civilianization.”
More than 150 sworn officers have been moved from desk jobs and into neighborhood patrols this year and another 150 will be moved onto the street by the end of the year, police Supt. Eddie Johnson said in a prepared statement.
Anthony Guglielmi, chief spokesman for the police department, said another wave of “civilianization” is planned after all 300 officers are moved into street duties.
“The rule is that if you don’t need a gun and a star to do a job, a civilian should do it,” he said.
“We’re probably one of the lowest [cities in terms of civilians working for the police department],” Guglielmi said. “We are working aggressively to get ourselves up to industry standards.”
The department lags other major police departments in civilians working in human resources, as nurses, as clerks and in other administrative positions, Guglielmi said.
“It’s the mayor’s initiative to get officers back on the street and put civilians in those positions,” he said.
On Tuesday, Johnson announced he was expanding the number of high-crime zones he plans to staff with sworn officers working overtime starting July 1. Most of those officers will work their OT shifts in the same districts where they are permanently assigned.
Those 26 high-crime zones are mostly on the West and South Sides, where murders have spiked dramatically this year.
The overtime is necessary because the department has become seriously undermanned in recent years. Johnson says it’s cheaper to hire officers on overtime than to hire more full-time officers and pay them the additional benefits to which they would be entitled.