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Federal probe doesn’t weaken Emanuel’s support for McCarthy

Updated: May 9, 2011 7:18PM

The federal investigation of the Newark Police Department is an ill-timed embarrassment to Chicago’s next police superintendent, but it will do nothing to change Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel’s support for Garry McCarthy, whom Emanuel credited with instituting “a number of aggressive and successful reforms” in Newark.

Both McCarthy and Emanuel directly addressed the ACLU petition for federal oversight of the Newark Police Department during a news conference last week to announce McCarthy’s appointment as Chicago Police superintendent.

And Emanuel repeated his support for McCarthy on Monday.

“When McCarthy took the position as Police Director [in Newark], not only did he institute a number of aggressive and successful reforms, he himself asked the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department to work with the NPD to assess the success of his reforms,” said Emanuel spokeswoman Chris Mather. “ McCarthy and his colleagues at the department will work with DOJ to continue to improve NPD’s handling of complaints.”

Last week, McCarthy said of the 38 suits cited in the ACLU petition, 31 of them pre-date the administration of Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who hired McCarthy.

Of the seven remaining suits, three stemmed from arrest situations. Two involved off-duty accidents by police officers where there was “no liability” on the part of the city. And two were dismissed, McCarthy said.

“There were issues that existed in that agency in the past. I believe that we’ve rectified them, and I think that it’s gonna stand up to scrutiny,” the Newark chief told reporters last week.

McCarthy noted that, when he arrived in Newark, he created a “first-ever performance evaluation system” as well as an employee monitoring system for officers who had received too many complaints. Those officers were provided training and extra supervision.

“A lot of those systems were not in place when I got there,” he said.

“We’re working with the Justice Department to show them everything that we’ve got, and I’m confident that … the management systems that we put in place in Newark will stand up to scrutiny. ... It’s not only gonna stand up, but we may in fact have some best practices that are gonna be spread around the country.”

McCarthy asked the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department to work with the Newark Police Department to assess the success of his reforms, Emanuel spokeswoman Tarrah Cooper said Monday.

Emanuel was also asked about the ACLU’s complaints about rampant police misconduct and lax internal oversight in Newark.

He told reporters last week that he had no lingering concerns about the ACLU petition because the issue was thoroughly vetted by the Chicago Police Board.

“That is what the Police Board is supposed to do when they come down with three final names. They looked into all the questions, and Garry’s name would not have been on that list if they were uncomfortable with any of the suits or any other issues,” the mayor-elect said then.

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