Chicago mayor defends police, fire overtime costs

CHICAGO – Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is defending the approximately $136 million being spent this year to pay overtime to police and fire department personnel.

Emanuel told the Chicago Sun-Times editorial board ( the overtime is not designed to be a cost-saving management strategy. Emanuel said Wednesday the police overtime is designed to put more officers on the street to combat crime.

The mayor pointed out a 23 percent reduction in overall crime, and a 24 percent reduction in shootings and homicides compared to last year.

Emanuel said the $43 million in Fire Department overtime is a result of a hiring freeze that allowed the city to resolve two hiring discrimination lawsuits.

The city has agreed to hire 111 black firefighters bypassed by the city's discriminatory handling of a 1995 entrance exam.