Police chief: I can’t pull Ald. Ed Burke’s security detail
BY LISA DONOVAN AND FRAN SPIELMAN Staff Reporters June 21, 2011 6:12PM
Ald. Ed Burke
Updated: June 22, 2011 2:11AM
As the city struggles to put more police on the streets, new Police Supt. Garry McCarthy says there is nothing he can do to get rid of powerful Chicago Ald. Edward Burke’s full-time security detail.
“It’s mandated by a court, so I don’t have the authority to change a court decision,” McCarthy told reporters Tuesday while discussing security plans for the upcoming Taste of Chicago.
Asked if Burke, the head of the City Council’s Finance Committee, could keep the guards “in perpetuity,’’ McCarthy said: “I don’t know about perpetuity.’’
But McCarthy said he is doing everything within his power to put more officers on patrol, including by taking officers off desk jobs in his own office.
“I am concerned about getting cops on the street, so I’m looking at everything we can do to get cops on the street — looking at who’s driving who, who’s working with who,’’ he said.
“I’m looking at every single police officer in the city.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel rocked the political boat before becoming mayor when he vowed to remove the officers assigned to Burke.
“There will be a shared sacrifice, including for Ed Burke and all the City Council. If Ed Burke has six police officers, that just can’t continue,’’ Emanuel said during a campaign debate.
While the exact number of guards Burke has is unclear, he has at least two bodyguards with him at all times to chauffeur and protect him — the only alderman with city-paid security. The assignment dates back to Burke’s role as a political lightning rod who marshaled opposition to Mayor Harold Washington during “Council Wars.’’
In the past, Burke has cited Circuit Court Judge Joseph Wosik’s 1986 decision to block the city’s attempt to cut his bodyguard detail at the time from four officers to two. Wosik upheld Burke’s argument that he was a high-profile official subject to periodic threats and that a reduction in the number of bodyguards would have stifled his opposition to Washington.