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Emanuel to name Newark chief Garry McCarthy as new top cop

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel today will introduce Newark, N.J. , police chief Garry McCarthy as Chicago’s new police superintendent, sources said, gambling that McCarthy’s big city experience will overcome the fact that he is another outsider.

McCarthy replaces Jody Weis, a career FBI agent who rank and file police officers never accepted because they viewed him as an outsider who didn’t have their backs.

Sources said that in his new post, McCarthy will be surrounded, Emanuel-style, with a “team” of public safety experts.

Former Marine training director Gary Schenkel, a top official in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security who ran the Chicago Police Academy under Terry Hillard, will return to Chicago as director of the Office of Emergency Management and Communications.

Fire Commissioner Robert Hoff, a second-generation battalion chief whose father died in the line-of-duty at the age of 44, will be retained.

And Felicia Davis, a former Chicago cop and Emanuel campaign aide, will serve as the new mayor’s chief liason on public safety issues.

Schenkel’s return to Chicago from the Department of Homeland Security is viewed as a coup for Chicago. He and Hillard met in 1998, when Schenkel was one of 80 Marines spending three days in Chicago touring bridges and sewers as they studied how to work in urban combat zones. A year later, Hillard asked his fellow Marine to run the police academy and spearhead Hillard’s push to improve training in the wake of the fatal police shootings of two unarmed civilians — LaTanya Haggerty and Robert Russ — during the same summer weekend. The shootings prompted Hillard to ask the John Marshall Law School to study the department’s training procedures. Among the school’s recommendations was updated training for every officer in the department — not just recruits in the academy. Hillard also installed video cameras in police cars and ordered a new firearm simulator that tests officers’ judgement in more than 400 different situations.

Four years later, Hillard’s replacement Phil Cline ousted Schenkel from the training academy job.

Last week, McCarthy, who will celebrate his 52nd birthday later this week, demonstrated that he is keenly aware of the morale problems he is inheriting.

He told the Chicago Sun-Times that he would not put on the Chicago Police Department’s uniform without first earning the right to do so by getting certified as an Illinois law enforcement officer.

But it’s going to take a lot more than that to restore morale that plummeted under Weis.

Police Board President Demetrius Carney believes that the second-generation cop has the police pedigree to do that.

He noted that McCarthy walked a beat and commanded three separate New York City precincts before becoming the chief architect of the Big Apple’s crime control strategy.

“He is an outsider. But this time, that outsider is not from the FBI. This is an outsider who understands policing and understands the plight of beat patrol,” Carney said.

“Beat patrol is the backbone of the department. He’s walked in those shoes. He understands beat patrol. He’s a cop’s cop. We, as a board, felt he could hit the ground running Because of his crime-fighting strategy, we felt he would be well-received by the rank-and-file.”

Sources said what sold Emanuel was McCarthy’s 30 years of experience leading big-city departments and his proven track record of implementing innovative strategies that worked to reduce crime.

As the New York City Police Department’s former operations chief, McCarthy was the force behind the CompStat program credited with dramatically reducing New York’s homicide rate. Under the program, police commanders are called before a review board on a monthly basis and held accountable for crime spikes.

McCarthy also helped call the shots in New York after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Last week, Emanuel tipped his hand toward McCarthy when he talked about the need for the new superintendent to have the experience required to get a running start.

“I get sworn in May 16. What do we all know about crime? It spikes in the summer. I don’t want to waste a single day,” he said.

As police director in Newark since 2006, McCarthy’s strategies to combat narcotics and gun violence have been credited with producing a 12 percent reduction in overall crime, a 40 percent decline in shooting incidents and homicides and a 23 percent cut in civilian complaints against his officers. His 32 percent reduction in Newark’s murder rate reportedly led the nation in 2008.

More recently, a budget crisis in Newark has forced McCarthy to lay off 100 of the officers he hired in recent years.

In Chicago, McCarthy inherits a Chicago Police Department more than 2,300 officers a day short of authorized strength., including vacancies, officers on limited duty and medical leave. Emanuel has promised to bolster the number of street officers by 1,000. officers, in part, by altering an overly generous sick-leave policy. that allows officers to take an 365 sick days every two years. He has vowed to hire an additional 250 officers with funds generated by tax-increment-financing districts.

McCarthy is only the third outsider in 50 years — but the second in the last three years — to serve as Chicago police superintendent. The length and terms of his contract were not known. Mayor Daley agreed to pay Weis an unprecedented $310,000 to serve as police superintendent and chief emergency officer. Weis was stripped of the second title a few months after he arrived in Chicago.

In 2003, McCarthy was a finalist for the superintendent’s job, only to have Daley choose Phil Cline, who parroted some of McCarthy’s ideas. The New Yorker took a pass in 2008 and planned to do the same this time, only to be encouraged to apply after the sky-high salary demands of the mayor-elect’s first- choice — former Chicagoan-turned-Philadelphia police Chief Charles Ramsey — nixed Ramsey’s candidacy.

Chicago aldermen who must approve McCarthy’s appointment were mixed in their reactions to the New Yorker.

Ald. Carrie Austin (34th) said choosing another outsider as police superintendent is no way to improve morale that hit rock-bottom under Weis.

“Why is it that no one ever reaches down in our own rank-and-file? Where is their aspiration to ever become superintendent? It will never come if you’re constantly going on the outside. Why would I be a deputy chief and aspire to become superintendent when you go around me every time?” she said.

Austin was even more troubled by the fact that Emanuel, whose landslide victory was sealed by carrying every one of the city’s black wards, has chosen a white police superintendent, a white fire commissioner and a white 911 center chief.

“Nobody is black at the top. At least Mayor Daley did have some African-Americans around him. It appears now that Mayor Emanuel has no blacks around him,” Austin said.

Reminded that newly-appointed Schools CEO Jean Claude Brizard is black, Austin said, “That’s not us. Even though that’s a sister agency of ours, that’s not in this City Hall.”

Ald. Michelle Harris (8th), chairman of the City Council’s Police Committee, said she looks forward to putting McCarthy on the City Council “hot seat.”

“The mayor has the right to come in and pick his new leadership team — people he feels are competent enough to do the job. He has to come in and pick a team that he’s comfortable” Harris said.

“I’m not the person running the city. The person who’s running the city and gonna get kicked. . . ..for good and bad . . . has to make that hard decision on who he feels he can best work with and best lead the city in the direction that he wants to go.”

Asked if she’s troubled that the new police superintendent is not African-American, Harris said, “Jody Weis wasn’t black.

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