The City of Chicago is home to approximately 2.7 million people and is the third-largest city in the United States. On January 1st 2017 the city’s new $9.8 billion budget went into effect, a substantial increase over the previous year’s $9.3 billion. A key component of the new budget is an increase in funding for Chicago’s Public Safety departments, including nearly $53 million to pay for the hiring and training of 900 new police officers over the next two years. [i]
Chicago Police Department
The Chicago Police Department (CPD) is entrusted with protecting all people and property in the city of Chicago. The CPD is divided into five distinct bureaus: the Bureau of Detectives, Bureau of Organized Crime, Bureau of Organizational Development, Bureau of Patrol and the Bureau of Support Services. Each Bureau operates according to a specific mandate, but all are expected to focus on delivering high-quality services in a professional and ethical manner.
A major goal of Chicago’s 2017 public safety budget is to put more police officers on the streets, the achievement of which will require an increase in the size of the police force. The first steps towards attaining this goal were taken in 2016, when the CPD began transitioning 319 officers from administrative roles back to street patrol duties; civilians were hired to take over most of the administrative functions previously handled by police officers. After seeing some success as a result of these changes, the transition program will continue in 2017.
Even with these changes, however, additional officers will still be needed to ensure that the CPD can continue to fulfill its mandate to serve and protect the people of Chicago. Beginning this year, the CPD will embark on a two-year plan to hire 970 new sworn officers in an initiative that will grow the department from 12,565 to 13,535 officers by the end of 2018. As part of this plan, an additional 500 police officers, 92 Field Training officers, 200 Detectives, 112 Sergeants and 50 Lieutenants will be hired and trained.
New training programs for existing CPD officers will also be unveiled in 2017. One of these programs is the 40-hour Crisis Intervention Program, which trains officers in techniques to de-escalate high-risk situations involving individuals in crisis and outline best practices for police interactions with persons with mental illness. During 2016 the CPD grew the number of certified Crisis Intervention officers on the force from 1,890 to 2,800; the force will continue this successful program through 2017. One important goal of the program is to ensure that each police district in Chicago has at least one certified Crisis Intervention officer on every watch.
Along with increased funding for training and staffing, new equipment is being evaluated by the CPD to see how it can aid police officers and the citizens they protect. In 2016 the Department rolled out the Body Worn Camera Program in several districts. During the first phase, approximately 2100 body worn cameras were issued to active duty police officers, representing one of the largest deployments of this type of equipment ever completed in the United States. In 2017, the program will roll out in another seven districts, with the goal of having body worn cameras issued to every police district in Chicago by 2018.
(Source: City of Chicago 2017 Budget Overview. Program and Budget Summaries by Department. Public Safety. Chicago Police Department. 2017)
Another major change affecting the CPD is the transition of the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) to the new Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA). COPA will be entrusted with greater authority than the IPRA and will be tasked with investigating individual incidents of police misconduct, improper search and seizure, denial of access to counsel and other constitutional violations. This changeover will require the expansion of many department resources including the hiring and training of new staff, new community engagement initiatives and greater quality control procedures.
(Source: City of Chicago 2017 Budget Overview. Program and Budget Summaries by Department. Public Safety. Civilian Office of Accountability. 2017)
Office of Emergency Management and Communications
In 1995, Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) was created to coordinate police, fire, and emergency medical services in response to 911 calls. The OEMC operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week and manages incidents, coordinates events and operates communications systems for various public safety departments within the city. More recently, the OEMC became the principle agency for coordinating responses with the Department of Homeland Security in the event of Chicago suffering a large scale disaster.
Starting in 2017, OEMC will undertake a two year plan to establish new emergency planning protocols for Mass Care following major incidents. Components of Mass Care include procedures for providing food, assistance and shelter for the public after a disaster. This project will provide education to key program partners and focus on streamlining the many procedures involved with Mass Care. The OEMC will also begin trialing updates for the Central Business District Evacuation Plan throughout 2017, with final updates being completed by the end of the 2017.
In additional to the changes and updates being implemented for emergency and disaster preparation, the Office will complete a transition of the city’s crossing guard force from the CPD to their department. This transition includes an evaluation of crossing guard deployment and resources to ensure proper allocation during the school year. Upon completion, the entire civilian workforce that deals with motorist and pedestrian safety in Chicago will be under the authority of the OEMC.
(Source: City of Chicago 2017 Budget Overview. Program and Budget Summaries by Department. Public Safety. Office of Emergency Management and Communications. 2017)
Chicago Fire Department
Chicago is the home to the second largest Fire Department in the United States. Responsible for an area of more than 228 square miles, the Chicago Fire Department (CFD) consists of 96 neighborhood firehouses and approximately 4,900 uniformed firefighters and paramedics. The CPD is responsible for a variety of critical duties including fire suppression, medical emergency response, hazardous materials incidents and other emergency situations.
To ensure that the CFD is prepared for any call it might receive; Chicago’s 2017 budget has set aside funds for continued cross-training of officers in the use of fire trucks, ambulances, helicopters, marine equipment and more than 250 additional pieces of life saving equipment. The equipment used by the CFD also requires regular updates: the Department is currently purchasing new, upgraded self-contained breathing apparatuses and equipment harnesses to help in search and rescue operations.
The CFD often partners with the Chicago Police Department for joint training sessions. One example is the Active Shooter Response Program, a lifesaving program designed to mitigate and neutralize a foreign or domestic threat while administering aid to the injured. Programs like this make sure that the people entrusted with the safety of Chicago are prepared for any possible event.
(Source: City of Chicago 2017 Budget Overview. Program and Budget Summaries by Department. Public Safety. Chicago Fire Department. 2017)
Chicago is known for its towering skyscrapers, delicious foods and vibrant culture. More than 40 million people visit the city each year, making public safety a top concern for the city’s administration. [i] The 2017 Chicago budget highlights a number of initiatives designed to keep the city ready, and the public safe, in the event of an unforeseen disaster. The resources needed to fulfill the various operational aspects of these initiatives open up a variety of opportunities for trusted third-party vendors to partner with the city’s emergency service departments to help them reach their public safety goals - both now and in the future.
Kevin McClintock | BidNet.com