Monday’s announcement of Garry McCarthy as Chicago’s new police superintendent has got to be the most important of the incoming administration of Rahm Emanuel.
As we have noted before, this decision is vital to the perception, and well-being of Chicago, not only for its citizens, but also its visitors; just in time for the annual influx that swarms the city, and fills its coffers with discretionary income.
As McCarthy has become aware the increasing crime that city residents face, each and every day; not only in the crime zones of the south side, but in northern wards, such as Uptown, whose recent uptick in crime has citizens alarmed, is top priority.
The 51 year old is prepared to “hit the ground running” and recognizes that the approaching warm weather will see a further crime increase.
A veteran of the Newark, NJ police force, McCarthy’s outlook and demeanor fit the profile of a true veteran that has been a beat cop, and the director providing a crucial dualism that is much needed here.
While some were surprised at the announcement expecting that Philadelphia chief, Chuck Ramsey, formerly the top cop in Washington, DC, would have left the city of brotherly love,for the windy city.
But, the most important thing is the office has to be filled with someone who can earn both the respect of the residents, as well as the rank and file members of the force.
McCarthy seems to understand that, with his statement, “As long as you are working hard and doing the right thing, I will have the cops’ backs. And, they’re going to learn that very quickly.”
As many know a lack of confidence was a prime ingredient in poor relations between the boys in blue, and former Chief Jody Weis.
This latest announcement also helps solidify the reputation of Rahm Emanuel as a top administrator; and shows his ability as a leader who can turn around an organization, even if that organization is the city-state known as Chicago.
And, as we’ve noted before, Emanuel gets high marks from police across the country, because while working in the Clintonadministration, he earned their praise with the hiring of 100,000 new cops.
In fact, Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Washingtonbased Police Executive Research Forum, on Emanuel: “He’s very well-respected in the police community.”
And, this undoubtedly gave him the bargaining power to bring McCarthy to Chicago.
Underscoring the commitment to crime reduction is a budget that can short-circuit good intentions, by McCarthy, or anyone.
Our colleague, Ben Joravsky of the Chicago Reader, has noted, “there are 7,413 beat officers in the current budget, that doesn’t mean there are 7,413 beat officers on the streets. A budget is nothing more than a projection of what a department expects to pay for in the coming months. The city doesn’t guarantee that it will make good on these projections, and it hasn’t made good on it with beat cops.”
So, the first item on Garry McCarthy’s “to-do” list is to work with the newly formulated City Council to present a workable budget that helps support the “boots on the ground” philosophy endorsed by Emanuel.