Top cop McCarthy picks insider Wysinger for his first deputy
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter email@example.com June 1, 2011 3:52PM
Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy (from left), new First Deputy of Chicago Police, Alfonza Wysinger and Alderman James Balcer at a press conference at Chicago Police Headquarters. | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times
Updated: July 8, 2011 2:28PM
A 25-year veteran Chicago Police officer who was Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s favorite inside candidate for superintendent got the consolation prize on Wednesday.
Acting Supt. Garry McCarthy chose Al Wysinger to be his first deputy with all of the powers that job used to entail before former Supt. Jody Weis stripped them away.
Emanuel felt so strongly about Wysinger, the 48-year-old deputy chief of detectives, he rushed over to police headquarters to join McCarthy in making the announcement.
Normally, mayors at least pretend to allow their police superintendents to choose their own teams. Not this time. Wysinger was McCarthy’s choice. But, he was also Emanuel’s.
“Take a good look at him,” Emanuel advised Wysinger’s wife, referring to the long hours that her husband was about to put in.
“She’ll see him in four years. He’ll come back just slightly greyer.”
The mayor then referred to the two-headed monster Weis created when he abolished the first deputy’s job in favor of two top aides: one in charge of administration, the other for operations.
“I stated when I introduced Garry McCarthy … that we were going to go back to a structure of a first deputy that existed before … to bring back a level of accountability within the Police Department, which is the cornerstone of an anti-crime strategy,” the mayor said.
“Al Wysinger is the right man at the right time for this job. … He started in the 11th District, was commander in the 15th District, was deputy chief of gangs and narcotics and [now serves as] deputy chief of the detectives unit. With that breadth of experience, we are fortunate to have him.”
Wysinger is known for the day in 2007 when he ran down a gunman who shot a woman in a gangway near his grandmother’s 80th birthday party on the West Side.
As an African-American, he not only adds diversity to McCarthy’s team. He is popular with the rank-and-file who had longed for one of their own to replace Weis, a career FBI agent who was viewed as an outsider who didn’t have their backs.
McCarthy said the first time he met Wysinger, he walked away saying to himself, “This man has integrity.” He was also impressed with Wysinger’s breadth of experience.
But, those were not the qualities that blew McCarthy away.
“The single most important thing I found out about Al Wysinger is the fact that he has enormous respect among, not only the leadership but the rank-and-file of this agency,” McCarthy said.
“He’s walked in their shoes. He’s done their jobs. And you know what? That’s half the battle when you’re talking about leadership. You can’t expect somebody to do something that you wouldn’t do yourself or you haven’t done before.”
Wysinger said he and McCarthy had several conversations where they “picked each other’s brains” about policing.
“We found out that we were a perfect fit. We meshed. We had the same ideas. We thought so much alike, it was almost uncanny. That was a great start to a great partnership which is gonna help this city again be one of the safest cities in the country,” he said to a standing ovation from the troops.