Mayor Rahm Emanuel refused to be pinned down Friday on how many new police officers he plans to hire in the coming months or how the city will pay for them.
“The fact is, there are certain fiscal conditions that have improved in the city,” Emanuel told reporters after a ribbon cutting for a new elementary school on the Far South Side. “So we’ll be able to do things that before we were hamstrung.”
Emanuel was referring to a move by the Fitch credit rating agency, which recently boosted the city financial outlook from negative to stable, while keeping the city’s credit rating to one step above junk.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported Friday that the mayor is planning to hire “hundreds” of additional officers to help combat violence, which has put the city on pace to log 700 murders by year’s end. Chicago hasn’t seen more than 600 in a single year since 2003, records show.
But Emanuel wouldn’t say Friday how many officers he planned to hire. Instead, he repeatedly talked about the need for a “comprehensive” strategy to tackle gun violence — of which a larger police force would be a part.
“If I put more officers on the street, but we have the same lax gun laws, you haven’t reached public safety,” he said. “If we put more officers on the street, but do not also invest in better mentoring and alternatives for our children, we have not solved this problem.”
Emanuel promised more details about his strategy during a policy speech planned for later this month.