A philanthropist or business could sponsor a police beat and put more off-duty cops on the streets under a plan being put forth by a downtown Chicago lawmaker on the City Council.
Alderman Brendan Reilly originally pitched the idea last October but is pushing it again following weekend incidents of teen mob activity on the Magnificent Mile, an upscale area of the city.
Under his plan, off-duty officers would work minimum six-hour shifts and make $30 an hour. The money would be paid by businesses, civic groups and churches at a time when city finances are stretched thin. The officers would be in full uniform and under the command of police supervisors.
"This is a way to make use of well-trained police officers who are moonlighting doing other things, bringing them back on the street to do what they do best, which is great police work,” Reilly said.
And he said his plan wouldn't just apply to the city's more affluent neighborhoods. There would be nothing in his proposal preventing an organization from sponsoring police protection anywhere in the city.
"You don't need to live in the ZIP code where you want to provide some additional stability and public safety," he said.
Still, he pressed that his plan is little more than a "creative tool" and isn't a long-term solution to the department's and the city's woes.
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"This is a stop-gap measure," he said."A long-term solution is we need to add more on-duty cops to the police department."
More than two dozen teens were arrested Saturday night after dozens of mob groups began attacking pedestrians.
One community activist told NBC Chicago 300 to 400 teens were involved, with some of them "jumping" on people.
Supt. Garry McCarthy said incidents of mob activity like the ones that happened over the weekend occur every year as the weather gets warmer. But Reilly says police presence makes a difference.
"This is something that, unfortunately, the city's had to struggle with on a seasonal basis for the last several years. But you'll notice that those headlines went away just like that as soon as we saw a surge in police visibility," Reilly said.
He said he hopes the budget committee will pass his bill and put it before the full Chicago City Council in an upcoming meeting.