Excerpts from the ChicagoTribune.com:

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to build a new, $95 million police and fire academy hit a speed bump this week when aldermen delayed approval of using $20 million from the sale of city-owned land for part of the cost of the academy. The city council was scheduled to reconvene Friday to vote on the proposal, although a lawsuit was filed Thursday to try to delay the vote. The academy has had vocal critics since it was first announced last year, but Wednesday’s delay was the first time they’ve slowed the plan’s progress.

News of the proposal followed a critical report from the U.S. Department of Justice about police department tactics, citing out-of-date training procedures for recruits at the police academy. The center would include indoor and outdoor training spaces as well as offer more joint training opportunities, the city has said. And the academy will be named for slain Cmdr. Paul Bauer, who was shot in the line of duty in February.

Emanuel and his supporters say the new public safety training center is a necessary replacement for separate police and fire academies, both more than 40 years old, so that up-to-date training can be offered in a modern facility. But it has also been viewed as a response to the spotlight on police misconduct.

At the same time, there have been too few investments on the West Side for far too long, supporters say. And the academy could help offset that inequity. The new campus is set to be built on 30 acres in West Garfield Park.

There’s been strong support for the training center among aldermen . An earlier purchase of land for the academy passed the council 48-1, approving paying $10 million for 30 acres of vacant land.

The lingering question is how the city will pay for the project. In addition to the $10 million for the land, Emanuel is planning to use $20 million from the sale of land near Goose Island — the subject of Friday’s scheduled vote — and an additonal $5 million from the sale of a River North firehouse. The mayor hopes to get at least $23 million from selling other police and fire training buildings. That means there’s still about $37 million needed.

Despite Emanuel’s plans for the academy, some Chicago cops think the mayor has turned his back on them. More than 100 off-duty officers marched at city hall during Wednesday’s council meeting and called for Emanuel’s removal from office. Some officers think the mayor’s endorsement of a federal consent decree overseeing police reform means he’s cast their interests aside. The mayor has also not yet agreed to a new contract — almost a year after the union’s last one expired.

thanks Dan

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