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McCarthy lovefest spreads to City Hall; CPD’s reputation “has been redeemed”

Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy  |  Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy | Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

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Updated: June 6, 2012 12:18PM

If they keep this up, Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy may have to change his last name to McArthur — as in the World War II general who couldn’t stay out of the headlines.

One day after County Board members compared McCarthy to former President George Washington and actor John Wayne, the City Council gushed over Chicago’s rookie police superintendent all over again for the cool leadership he showed calling the shots on the front lines during the NATO summit.

“It almost looked like a mini-analogy of [the movie], ‘Braveheart.’ I was proud to see you there leading the troops, “ said Ald. Nick Sposato (36th), as an embarrassed McCarthy smiled and covered his face in the VIP box reserved for members of the mayor’s cabinet.

Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) did her best Billy Crystal imitation in saying, “As I told Superintendent McCarthy right after the event, ‘You did mah-velous.’…It’s good to be able to stick your chest out and show you can handle something.”

Ald. Marty Quinn (13th) recalled that former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani once called McCarthy the “best cop” in the United States.

“Superintendent, after watching the NATO weekend, it’s very difficult to argue with Mayor Giuliani’s point. I’m not quite certain George Washington yet. But it’s very difficult to argue that,” Quinn said.

Forty-four years after clashes between Viet Nam War protesters and police during the 1968 Democratic National Convention gave Chicago a black eye, Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th) proudly proclaimed, “The reputation of the Chicago Police Department worldwide has been redeemed.”

He added, “They relieved the extreme sense of drama on Chicago’s streets, particularly in the red zone near McCormick Place. In those highly-charged and emotional confrontations with demonstrators, Chicago’s law enforcement personnel commanded the high ground with strength and moderation. They remained calm in the face of provocation, demonstrating firm and respectful direction. Chaos indeed was averted. The rights of demonstrators were respected. The property of Chicago citizens was protected.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel stuck his neck out to get the NATO summit and squeezed business leaders to spend $36.5 million to fund it.

But all of the post-summit accolades have gone to McCarthy, whose leadership on the front lines in helping to diffuse a potentially volatile confrontation with Black Bloc provocateurs at Michigan and Cermak has turned him into a folk hero.

On Wednesday, the mayor who is used to commanding the spotlight joked about the bright lights shining down on his police superintendent.

“Since I have to talk to Garry McCarthy every morning, I would prefer neither [comparisons to the movie,] ‘Braveheart’ nor George Washington going forward,” Emanuel said.

Chicago’s wiry mayor then disclosed that he lost five pounds during the summit — “my NATO diet,” as he put it — because of the “incredible amount of preparation” that went into summit planning with a dose of worry thrown in.

“I took a risk in asking for the largest NATO conference in the 63-year history of NATO….I do know who would have taken responsibility if it wasn’t done right. I did it because I wanted to elevate Chicago on the world stage and show that we were a world-class city,” the mayor said.

“Our law enforcement and our entire city showed that we are a world-class city that can perform on the world stage. …We wrote a new chapter in the history of this city. We have turned the page from what happened in the past and Chicago has become the new gold standard of what to do—not what not to do.”

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