Officer count and crime stats: Chicago Police Department shell games?


Scott Waguespack, 32nd Ward

"Shell game" is how 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack referred to actions in Chicago's Police Department regarding officers signing into their district in May then being told to patrol in another district 15 miles away.

Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy has repeatedly stated that the crime stats are going down and therefore they do not support adding to the police force. Now it appears that McCarthy's CompStat Reports are another example of a shell game.


Chicago Police Superintendent Garry F. McCarthy

McCarthy recently announced  that there will be 450 to 500 new hires in the Chicago Police Department this year. The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) President Michael Shields says, "...that is a step in the right direction."  In reality, that number does not cover previous, current or future reductions.

"More than 1,000 officers retired in the last two years," says Waguespack. With approximately 50 retirements per month estimated by the FOP, subtract another 600 officers per year. Furthermore, it takes four months to go through the Academy and another 18 in the field before becoming a full-fledged officer.

How many Chicago Police Officers are there?
While repeated requests to McCarthy for employee counts were never given to elected officials, the public, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) or the press, he did state in his new hire announcement that he wants to maintain 12,500 sworn employees which include 9,600 officers.

Since there is no 2011 Police Department Annual Report available as yet,  only the previous three years are officially available. They list the Sworn/Exempt personnel counts as: 2008 -- 13,354; 2009 -- 13,136; and 2010 -- 12,244.


Mayor Rahm Emanuel

As Mayor-elect, Emanuel promised to put 1,000 officers on the streets. Serving as temporary superintendent between March and May 2011, Terry Hillard, Superintendent from 1998 to 2003, began dismantling Jody Weis's police department structure which included special units such as the Mobile Strike Force (MSF) and Targeted Response Unit (TRU).

Initially, Hillard took 100 members from MSF and put them on beats, eventually TRU and MSF were eliminated. At least 150 administrative employees also increased feet on the street to fulfill Emanuel's promise. That, however, did not add man-power to the force. 

Why are the number of officers declining?
In September 2008, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune, "Weis (former Superintendent who was hired in 2008) said in April the current budget provides for hiring 75 new officers, a slight boost in the ranks of the 13,400 sworn officers on the city payroll as of December. The city also anticipated hiring about 350 officers to replace those it expected to lose to attrition, Weis said then.

"But since that time, Daley has declared that the city faces the worst financial crisis since he became mayor in 1989." The article concluded with "...instructors at the police academy have been told there will be no new hires for the rest of the year."

Emanuel took office in May 2011 and faced major financial challenges in the City. Named superintendent May 2, 2011, McCarthy consistently stated that the changes he was making in the police department had nothing to do with money. (That included closing the 13th District station and combining it with the 12th.) It had to do with making the department more efficient.

McCarthy is the product of a system created in New York by William Batten, a legend in policing, who used CompStat. A computer statistics program, it allows for data collection and reporting on a district basis as well as city-wide. That is coupled with performance accountability for the entire chain-of-command down to commanders.

Regular meetings with the Superintendent, which are known to be "stressful" are where the rubber-meets-the road, according to sources.

What do the stats look like?
While not supplying inquirers with current employee numbers, McCarthy has stridently stated that "stats do not support" a larger force.

Though the 2011 Police Department Annual Report is not available at this time, the end-of-year 2011 crime stats are given in a CompStat report which compares stats in 7 categories for 2011, 2009 and 2010.

Stats from CompStat for 2009 and 2010 are not the same as in the annual reports for those years. Aside from leaving off two categories (Aggravated Assault and Arson), the theft column reduces the crime stats by tens of thousands.

"Theft" is used on the annual reports and on "Clear Path" as a category but is shown as "Felony Theft" on Compstat. There appears to be no indication that they have changed what is counted in that category except for the includison of "Felony". However, if it is a change, did they have that breakdown for previous years? It has been stated that "Felony" is a serious crime versus other thefts that are not "serious".

If the concept is to show only the "serious" crimes as defined by law enforcement, are those the only numbers that justify hiring more officers? Do the victims of "non-serious" crimes feel any less violated? Does the public feel any safer knowing the "serious" crimes are going down but less "serious" crimes may not be, in fact they may be increasing?

Exhibit 1 below shows the CompStat figures city wide for 2011 with columns for 2010 and 2009.


End of 2011 stats, compare numbers to 2010 and 2009 stats that do not reflect the annual report figures (see below)

Exhibit 2 below shows the numbers from the annual reports for 2008, 2009 and 2010.


City wide crime stats by year, even subtracting out Aggravated Assault and Arson do not  equal Compstat numbers in exhibit above.

Exhibit 3 below shows breakdowns for Districts 13 and 14 for 2008 and 2009 with the population under the 2000 census.


Stats show totals for Districts 13 and 14 for 2008 and 2009

Exhibit 3 below shows breakdowns for Districts 13 and 14 for 2008 and 2009 with the population under the 2000 census.


Under the 2010 census, stats are shown for Districts 13 and 14 for 2010

Exhibit 4 below shows end-of-year comparisons for 2011, 2010 and 2009 for Districts 13 and 14 from Compstat. Note the differences in counts between these numbers and the annual reports shown above.


CompStat end-of-year 2011 for the13th and 14th Districts

How is it that the end-of-year numbers from CompStat do NOT match the numbers in the annual reports for 2010 and 2009? Looking at city-wide stats the difference shown in the 2011 report for 2009 is 58,325 less then on the 2009 Annual Report (after subtracting out Aggravated Assault and Arson). For 2010 the difference is 54,168.

Though we have made numerous calls to try to understand the huge differences, we have not been able to learn the answer. Even the Chicago Police Department's News Affairs does not have the answer because "that is all done in statistics department."

We will continue to pursue the information and try to become better educated by the statistics department. If you know the answers to any of these questions, please share them. Please share your opinions about these issues too!

You can make sure that decisions are made on the correct information, regardless on where they are categorized. If you see or are involved with a crime, call 911. And, be sure a police report is made.



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