Fire Department – Eliminate the Internal Affairs Unit

Savings: $1.2 million

The Fire Department’s internal affairs unit investigates misconduct by personnel in Fire Department.  The unit is headed by an assistant commissioner and reports to the 1st Deputy Fire Commissioner.  The 2011 budget includes 11 positions and $873,000 in wages for the unit.[1]  Assuming fringe benefits are 35 percent of salary, the total compensation for these positions is $1.2 million.

Under this option, the City would eliminate the Fire Department’s internal affairs unit and transfer the responsibilities to an external investigative department.

Proponents might argue that there is no reason for the Fire Department to have its own investigative unit.  When internal affairs units are created, they are typically used for law enforcement, which has its own, unique challenges, which do not generally exist within the fire department. Opponents might argue that the internal affairs unit should remain in the department as it allows the fire commissioner to hold accountable fire personnel who engage in misconduct.  It is better to maintain this chain of accountability inside the department rather than transfer it to an outside oversight agency and thus dilute the power of the fire commissioner

Budget Details

Dept: Fire Department, 59 Bureau: NA
Fund: Corporate Fund, 0100 Approp Code: Salary and Wages on Payroll, 0005
The appropriations are located on page 185 and the position schedule is on page 188 of the 2011 Annual Appropriation Ordinance.

[1] City of Chicago. “2011 Annual Appropriation Ordinance.” pg. 188