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McCarthy gives high marks to start of Safe Passage routes

Updated: August 27, 2013 3:05PM



With the exception of a few “kinks,” Day One of the Safe Passage school routes went “very, very well,” the city’s top cop said Tuesday.

“So far it’s going very much according to plan — a couple of kinks that have to be worked out here and there,” Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said, speaking at Navy Pier following a graduation ceremony for 123 police recruits. “When you’re trying to coordinate your effort across I don’t know how many city agencies, there are going to be kinks.”

McCarthy said he and his command staff had noticed a few too many parked police patrol cars along the routes, the day some 400,000 Chicago Public Schools students reported to class.

“If the cars are sitting still, I want the officers out of the cars and talking to kids on the street,” McCarthy said.

On Monday, Fraternal Order of Police President Mike Shields criticized the decision to send new police academy graduates out on Safe Passage routes unaccompanied by veteran officers. McCarthy said that criticism was unwarranted.

“First of all, there is precedent for this — we do it all the time,” McCarthy said. “Second of all, we’re in a position where every city agency from the community is stepping up to do this. I don’t think it’s appropriate to be criticizing the fact that we have armed, trained police officers going out on these routes when we have civilians who are stepping up.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, in addressing the graduates, described the first day of the Safe Passage routes as “an example of community policing at its best.”

Several new officers said they have no fears about their upcoming Safe Passage assignments.

“Not really,” said Josue Pivaral, 33. “The Academy has prepared us pretty well for the unexpected.”

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