Over 50 new officers hit the streets as Chicago grows its police force

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CHICAGO — Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Sunday that more than 50 new police officers will soon hit the streets across Chicago, providing a boost to their beats as the city continues its battle against violent crime.

According to Emanuel, Chicago saw a decline of more than 100 homicides last year, the most drastic one-year reduction in more than a decade. As one more step in the city's anti-crime efforts, Emanuel said more than 50 new officers will be deployed in police districts around the city. It's all part of the city's crime reduction strategy of adding 1,000 new officers to the force.

“Every month, there will be officers coming out and hitting the streets of Chicago," Emanuel said.

In the West Side district where the mayor made the announcement, violent crime dropped by 26 percent last year. It was one of the first districts to launch a Strategic Decision Support Center, in which specialists analyze data and statistics, monitor gun shot detection technology and use interactive maps to determine where and when to send officers.

"These investments have changed how we police in Chicago and have brought about a measure of hope to neighborhoods that have been plagued by violence far too long," CPD Chief of Patrol Fred Waller said Sunday.

The mayor says six new Strategic Support Centers will also go online this year.

"That will allow the police department to go from reactive to proactive – rather than waiting to stop the second shot, they’ll be stopping the first shot from ever happening," Emanuel said.

Evan as violent crime numbers are going down on the West Side, resident Gevonna Fassett says there’s another major issue to tackle: drugs. She believes the presence of new officers walking the beat will prevent drug crimes.

"Most people aren’t going to come out and do crime right in front of an officer,” Fassett said.

The mayor also said the city must invest not only in the police department, but also in programs that improve the economic conditions and educational opportunities in the city’s roughest neighborhoods.

"Officers without young men in a mentoring program at school are just officers – ask the commander if he’d like to see more investments in after school, summer jobs and mentoring programs," Emanuel said.

City officials say 100 new recruits will be joining the police academy every month through the end of 2018.