Police Supt. McCarthy has his ‘100 percent support,’ Emanuel says
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org February 25, 2013 1:02PM
Chciago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy | AP file photo
Updated: March 27, 2013 6:17AM
Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Monday expressed his “100 percent support” for Police Supt. Garry McCarthy, even as he shared the “frustrations” of black aldermen about Chicago’s epidemic of homicides triggered by gang violence.
Emanuel gave McCarthy a political vote of confidence three days after the chairman of the City Council’s Black Caucus warned that the “clock is ticking” on McCarthy and it won’t be long before black aldermen demand the superintendent’s ouster.
“I appreciate any of the alderman’s expressions and frustrations. That is not different than my sense of the urgency I want for public safety,” Emanuel said at an unrelated news conference to announce full-day kindergarten.
“Both Garry McCarthy, [First Deputy] Al Wysinger and the entire leadership in the Police Department have my 100 percent support, but they also have my sense of impatience to get the results throughout the city to bring the type of public safety we want [to] every neighborhood.”
As for reports that he’s preparing to double — from 200 officers a day to 400 — the number of officers working overtime on days off, Emanuel portrayed the initiative as no different from the year-round “surge” he announced in his 2013 budget address.
What started as a plan to hire moonlighting officers on summer weekends has since been expanded to include overtime five days a week year-round.
“I want the superintendent and the leadership to have the strategic flexibility to apply resources when they’re needed, where they’re needed at the right time,” Emanuel said Monday.
“What happens on a Saturday night or a Friday night is not the same as what happens on a Monday mid-afternoon. That gives you the flexibility and that’s exactly what we’re doing. . . . . We’re making the right decisions to invest. It’s an extended period of time, but the right call to do and we have the resources to do it. Don’t worry. The budget will be fully balanced.”
Ald. Howard Brookins (21st), chairman of the Black Caucus, was standing a few feet away from the mayor when Emanuel gave McCarthy a vote of confidence that had a familiar ring.
It sounded a lot like the political reassurance the mayor gave to Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard weeks before the mayor engineered Brizard’s early exit with a severance package that included a full year of his $250,000 salary.
“He captured the mood of the Black Caucus. We’re all frustrated. I’m glad it’s such a high-level priority for the mayor,” the alderman said.
Brookins was asked how much time McCarthy should be given to stop the bloodbath on Chicago streets before the mayor considers pulling the plug on the superintendent’s tenure.
“When you look at the summer, traditionally when these things tend to spike up, that is when we’ll be able to determine if those strategies are working. The pressure will not only be from the Black Caucus. It’ll be from the public in general,” Brookins said.
“We know that the national media is leading off with stories about crime in Chicago, and it’s got to stop because it is hurting us in a number of ways — whether it be tourism, people locating here, etc. We’ve got to get this tamped down.”
Last week, Brookins and three other black aldermen held a closed-door meeting with Matt Hynes, Emanuel’s intergovernmental affairs chief.
The aldermen complained about what some perceive as McCarthy’s “arrogance”; demanded to know what other strategies the superintendent has up his sleeve, and tossed out a few ideas of their own.
The aldermen also reiterated their long-standing complaint about McCarthy’s strategy of disbanding specialized units in favor of putting more officers on beat patrol.
After the fatal shooting of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, McCarthy shifted 200 police officers from desk jobs to street duty and reassigned them to “area saturation teams” already concentrating on gang violence that replaced the Mobile Strike Force he disbanded.
Now, he’s increasing police overtime and calling for cities across the country to count shootings, just as Chicago does, and for the FBI to include those totals in its annual Uniform Crime Report.
To Brookins, that’s a diversionary waste of time and energy.
“That doesn’t change the way the public pushes on the aldermen asking and demanding that something be done about this violence. That’s not gonna change our perception about what’s going on,” he said. “We need that murder rate to go down and we need our citizens to feel that they’re safe and secure within their communities.”