Chicago Police Department Budget Q&A

September 01, 2023

This blog takes an updated look at the Chicago Police Department (CPD) budget and staffing levels for 2023 based on the City of Chicago’s adopted budget for fiscal year 2023. The Mayor will introduce a new budget proposal for FY2024 later this fall. 

How much does the City of Chicago budget for public safety?

The total City of Chicago budget adopted for Fiscal Year 2023, which ends on December 31, is $13.3 billion for all local funds. Local funds include all operating funds, but exclude grants and capital funds. The Chicago Police Department’s budgeted appropriation for FY2023 within the local funds is $1.78 billion. This means the Department has the authority to spend up to that amount. As the single largest department in the City of Chicago, the CPD budget makes up 13% of the total $13.3 billion dollar local funds budget (excluding grants).

Within the City budget, public safety narrowly accounts for the largest category of spending at $2.7 billion, representing 20.3% of the total budget, as shown in the chart below. In addition to the Police Department, public safety includes the budgets of several other departments: the Fire Department, Office of Public Safety Administration, the Chicago Police Board, the Office of Emergency Management and Communications, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability and the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability.

The CPD budget itself is also the largest department within Chicago’s public safety spending, accounting for 65% of the public safety program area. The Fire Department has the second largest budget within public safety spending, with appropriations of $704.7 million, less than half that of the Chicago Police Department.



Over time, all categories of the city spending have grown significantly, although some areas of spending have increased more than others. General financing, also called “Finance General,” and pension funding in particular have grown over the years to comprise larger portions of the total City budget. Each accounts for about 20% of the total City appropriations in FY2023. Pension funding requirements increased significantly beginning in 2015, as new State legislation required the City to increase employer contributions made to the four City pension funds. 

Finance General accounts for cross-departmental expenditures including employee healthcare benefits, workers’ compensation, contractual services, legal judgment and settlement costs and information technology services. Increased appropriations within this category of spending have been driven in part by the increased cost of healthcare benefits. Since employee benefits and pension costs are budgeted separately from departmental budgets, these costs are not included in the public safety program appropriations, though they do contribute to the costs of staffing the Chicago Police Department. 

Which City funds are used to account for the Chicago Police Department?

Next, we’ll take a closer look at the Chicago Police Department’s budgeted spending across all funds for 2023 by fund. The all-funds spending appropriation for CPD (including grant funds) is $1.94 billion. Grant funding for CPD in 2023 accounts for $168.7 million, while all other funds account for $1.78 billion. 

The City of Chicago budget has several different types of funds that it uses to account for revenue and spending. The primary general operating fund is the Corporate Fund, which in FY2023 has total appropriations of $5.4 billion. The vast majority of the Chicago Police Department, $1.7 billion, is budgeted within the $5.4 billion Corporate Fund. The police budget makes up 31% of Corporate Fund appropriations. 

Smaller portions of the Chicago Police Department budget are found within the two Chicago airport funds, special purpose funds and grant funds. The Chicago Midway and O’Hare Airport Funds allocate $34.5 million to CPD for 2023 in order to fund police services at Chicago’s major airports. 

Within the special revenue funds, the Controlled Substance Fund accounts for just $100,000. This fund allocates resources to enforce laws regulating controlled substances, funded through fines collected by the City. The Chicago Police Detail Fund allocates $30 million to provide security services to the Chicago Transit Authority. The Chicago Police Department and CTA have an intergovernmental agreement that allows sworn officers to be paid for providing security on Chicago Transit Authority property during off-duty hours through the voluntary Special Employment Program. The CTA reimburses the City for this program.  

CPD is expected to have $168 million in grant funding available during 2023. 

For 2023, the Police Department is budgeted for a total of 14,093 full-time equivalent (FTE) personnel positions. The vast majority of those—13,678 positions—are within the Corporate Fund, or general operating fund. O’Hare and Midway Airport Funds are budgeted for 290 FTE personnel positions assigned to Chicago’s two airports. Grant funds account for 125 FTE positions. The majority of the grant positions are within two grant programs: COPS Hiring Program (75 FTEs) and the Transit Security program (43 FTEs).



How have CPD staffing levels changed over time?

The chart below shows the Chicago Police Department’s budgeted spending levels and budgeted full-time equivalent positions over the past ten years within the local funds (excluding grant funds). It is important to note that these figures do not reflect actual expenditures or filled FTE positions, which may differ from budgeted levels. Over the ten-year period from 2014 to 2023, budgeted appropriations for the Police Department across all local funds increased from $1.3 billion in FY2014 to nearly $1.8 billion in FY2023. During the same period, the number of budgeted FTE positions decreased from 14,275 in FY2014 to a low of 13,649 in FY2016, then increased to 14,854 in FY2019 and dropped again to 14,137 in FY2023. Police Department appropriations over this period have increased by 27.7%, while the number of FTE positions has decreased by 5.8%. 



The actual number of CPD employees has historically been below the budgeted level. For example, as of August 8, 2023, the Chicago Police Department had 12,333 active employees based on City of Chicago active employee data reported by the Chicago Inspector General. This is 12.5% below the budgeted personnel level of 14,093 FTE positions.

The majority of positions budgeted within the Chicago Police Department are sworn officer positions. Based on a 2022 Civic Federation analysis of CPD, 93.2% of the Police Department’s budgeted positions were sworn personnel, while 6.8% were non-sworn. 

As of August 1, 2023, the Chicago Police Department had a total of 11,722 actively assigned, sworn officers. The number of active sworn police officers remains 12% below its peak of 13,353 in 2018.

The chart below shows the number of active sworn members of the Chicago Police Department (including all ranks and position titles) in CPD from August 2017 through August 2023 based on active officer assignments data made available on the Office of the Inspector General “Sworn CPD Members by Unit and Month” data dashboard. The Inspector General began collecting data from the Chicago Police Department in August 2017.



What are the full costs of CPD?

The appropriations made within the Chicago Police Department budget do not offer a full picture of CPD spending because of other expenditures that occur outside of the department’s budget. Primarily, these include expenditures categorized under the Finance General category of the City budget, which are not broken down by department. Finance General includes costs associated with employee benefits including healthcare and workers’ compensation, pension contributions, debt service for the payment of bonds, professional services and some other cross-departmental expenditures. The cost of employee healthcare benefits for the Chicago Police Department is unknown because of the way these expenses are lumped together in Finance General.

The required contribution that the City of Chicago must make to the Police Pension Fund in 2023 is $973.2 million. This represents about 36% of the total pension contributions for 2023 to the City’s four pension funds combined. 

Additionally, there are several other public safety departments that work in conjunction with the Chicago Police Department, such as the Office of Emergency Management and Communication and the Office of Public Safety Administration. The Office of Emergency Management and Communications, which handles the 911 call center, has a budget of almost $78 million (excluding grant funding) and covers 959 FTE positions. The Office of Public Safety Administration handles some administrative functions for CPD such as human resources, information technology, and finance, with a $180 million dollar budget and 362 FTE positions.

The City also has three police oversight departments—the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA), the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability and the Chicago Police Board. COPA was appropriated $15 million in 2023, with 154 FTE positions, while the Chicago Police Board has a budget of just under $600,000 with two FTE positions. The newer Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability has a budget of $3.2 million, with 23 FTE positions.

As previously noted, this analysis focuses on the City’s budgeted, rather than actual, expenditures. However, it is important to note that the Chicago Police Department’s actual spending in certain budget categories is frequently higher than the budgeted appropriation authority. Two areas of common overspending in CPD are within overtime and payments for judgments and outside counsel related to police lawsuits. For example, the Chicago Police Department budgeted $91.4 million in overtime in FY2021, but actually spent $130.4 million that year (the most recent available). Budgeted vs. actual spending on overtime within CPD since 2017 is shown in the chart below.  



Likewise, the Chicago Police Department has historically spent far beyond the budgeted appropriations for legal judgments and settlements associated with the Police Department. A Better Government Association analysis found that the City failed to budget enough to cover CPD legal costs and settlements every year since 2010 except for one year—in 2020. The Lightfoot administration began budgeting for legal costs within the Chicago Police Department’s budget in 2020, which brought the departmental cost closer in line with actual costs. However, these costs continue to exceed budget. The CPD budget accounted for $82.6 million in judgment and settlement costs in FY2021, compared to $100.4 million in actual expenditures.

The Johnson administration plans to release an updated budget forecast in mid-September, followed by the Mayor’s budget proposal for FY2024 in October for the fiscal year starting January 1. The Civic Federation will continue to offer analysis and recommendations on the City’s upcoming proposed FY2024 budget.