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CHICAGO — Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot today announced a comprehensive plan to strengthen and realign the administrative functions of the Chicago Police Department (CPD), Chicago Fire Department (CFD) and the Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) under the City's new Office of Public Safety Administration. The creation of a dedicated public safety administrative office will help reduce costs, increase efficiency and improve public safety across the three departments, and is part of a broader modernization effort aimed at better supporting Chicago's first responders so that they can focus on the core work of protecting and serving Chicago’s communities.
In an effort to maximize resources and move public safety personnel back to the street by next summer, the new public safety administration office is expected to redirect more than 151 sworn officers and 11 uniform fire personnel from headquarters back into Chicago’s neighborhoods. As part of these reforms, the City is also announcing plans to restructure CPD’s detective areas to provide better crime response, improved neighborhood public safety service, and build on the City’s all-hands-on-deck public safety strategy.
“Our police, firefighters and emergency responders work together day and night to protect their fellow residents, and through these reforms, we’re building a unified and collaborative public safety system to ensure Chicago’s first responders have the resources and supports they need to better keep our communities and residents safe,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “Today represents the next step in our 'all-hands-on-deck' strategy to not only maximize resources and expand emergency services, but also increase citywide efficiency in a coordinated and collective effort to create real, widespread and lasting public safety.”
The new Office of Public Safety Administration will allow first responders from all three departments to benefit from improved administrative support and additional resources. Approximately 280 civilian staff from the finance, human resources, information technology and logistics divisions will be integrated within the new Office of Public Safety Administration, which will be housed at Chicago’s Public Safety Headquarters.
“Our office has been working towards creating a balanced budget for 2020 that prioritizes the Mayor’s investments, minimizes the impact on basic services, and achieves sustainable savings as we close a historic $838 million budget deficit,” said Susie Park, Director of the Office of Budget and Management. “This new office allows our police and fire to focus on their core functions by streamlining administrative processes that will lead to greater efficiencies and long-term cost savings.”
Additionally, as part of the proposed integration plan, CPD is restructuring two of its original Area Centers, Harrison Area on the West Side and Grand Central Area on the Near Northwest Side, to expand the department’s crime-solving and crime-response resources. The plan to reimagine the two detective bureaus was developed in consultation with CPD leadership with a goal of increasing collaboration by detectives and police officers on patrol. The reform will allow more detectives to remain in the field for casework, cutting down on travel times and overtime costs.
"The Chicago Police Department welcomes any opportunity to increase efficiency and better align our Department around the core functions of improving community safety and building partnerships within the neighborhoods we are sworn to serve and protect," said CPD Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson.
While all current civilian personnel will retain their positions under the new office, efficiencies from the consolidation are expected to generate savings over time. Today, at roughly 60 percent, public safety agencies make up the largest portion of the City’s annual operating budget, with overtime costs totaling over $200 million annually.
“Streamlining the administrative functions of the public safety departments will allow us to realize financial savings, maximize resources and leverage the expertise of inter-departmental staff to achieve operational efficiencies with the goal of making Chicago safer for residents and visitors,” said Rich Guidice, OEMC Executive Director.
Currently, each of the department’s operational and data-tracking systems are built and designed to meet only the needs of their own individual use, often leading to incompatibility, inefficient use of resources and higher costs for unstructured operational procedures and services that affect all City first responders.
"The Chicago Fire Department will work closely with the Mayor's Office and Office of Budget and Management to transition as many uniformed-members as possible back to our Firehouses to bolster our readiness and ability to handle any emergency that occurs," said CFD Commissioner Richard C. Ford II. "Our members are trained to the highest standards to protect their fellow residents and this new focus puts them where their training will serve the most good to themselves and the public."
Responsible for managing the administrative functions of the public safety departments, the new agency will provide data analysis for overtime management at each department and will work collaboratively with the public safety departments and the Office of Budget and Management to develop long-term strategies to decrease overtime.
“The skills, knowledge, and abilities brought forth by our police officers and first responders are critical to ensuring the efficiency of departmental operations. By moving more officers to patrol operations, we are ensuring that every last resource in Chicago is used towards keeping our city safe,” said Alderman Chris Taliaferro, Public Safety Chair, 29th Ward.
Still subject to City Council approval, the restructuring of civilian-employed positions and the transition of sworn officers and uniform fire personnel back to the streets will take place over the next six months, with the expected launch of the new agency by May of 2020 to ensure full staffing before next summer. The City is currently in the process of selecting an Executive Director who will oversee the Office of Public Safety Administration.
“Addressing Chicago’s significant budget challenges requires nothing less than innovative and important reforms, which is why I’m proud to join Mayor Lightfoot to create a more effective, collaborative and integrated public safety system that reflects our fiscal responsibilities and supports the work of those who are on the front lines protecting our communities,” said Alderman Ariel Reboyras, 30th Ward.
As the departments determine the duty status of additional officers and firefighters, all personnel will remain in place until the Office of Public Safety Administration is fully operational. The Police and Fire Departments will determine redeployment based upon operational needs and in accordance with the applicable collective bargaining agreements.