Chicago Police Department Superintendent Garry McCarthy admitted that his police force can, at times, be slow to respond to reports of shootings at a heated Monday town hall meeting scheduled to discuss the city's budget shortfall.
As WBEZ reports, a South Side Chicago resident told McCarthy that sometimes when she dials 911 to report a shooting, she is told by operators that no officers are available to address her concern. In response, McCarthy admitted the 911 call system "is kind of broken."
"There are too many 911 calls in the system for us to respond to every one," he told the crowd at Kennedy-King College in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood. "And if our officers are tied up on a lower-level priority, then they're not available to reply to your shots-fired call."
But McCarthy also claimed that the problem is not due to a lack of police officers on the force, but, instead, he said a lack of efficiency within the force has impacted how officers' ability to respond to "priority calls."
Still, questions are bound to persist concerning how an admittedly inefficient police force can improve their response time to 911 calls and other urgent matters while, at the same time, their ranks are being thinned under Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's tenure.
As the Chicago Reader reports, despite Emanuel's claim that "nearly 750 additional officers" have been deployed to Chicago's neighborhoods over the course of his first 100 days in office, the number of Chicago police officers has actually decreased slightly. As of last Wednesday, the force is down 260 since last October and short 700 officers compared to five years ago. The bulk of the 750 "new" cops were redeployed from special operations units created by former top cop Jody Weis.
Earlier this month, McCarthy said his department would "trim the fat on executive staff," not the police force, to deliver $1 million in budget savings. Meanwhile, since he was appointed earlier this summer, McCarthy has repeatedly vowed to make "quality of life" arrests -- such as noise violations or public drinking, as two examples -- a priority for his force. McCarthy has claimed such "sweating the small stuff" helps prevent larger crimes, like shootings, before they happen.