Garry McCarthy for mayor of Chicago?
He is the former NYPD deputy commissioner who ran the department’s CompStat program and more recently served as Chicago police superintendent.
Documents for an exploratory committee were filed recently with Illinois election officials. And if McCarthy runs, he’d be challenging the man who appointed, then fired him, Rahm Emanuel, the Democratic incumbent mayor and the first chief of staff in the Obama White House.
“I’m considering it, but I’m not driving off a cliff,” McCarthy, 58, said in a telephone interview. “There’s going to be a witch hunt going on against the police. I feel I can make a difference.”
Appointed superintendent in 2011, McCarthy was scapegoated by Emanuel after the release of a video in the 2014 fatal police shooting of a 17-year-old black man, Laquan McDonald. After his mayoral re-election, Emanuel fired McCarthy as controversy grew over the video.
Since then, crime in Chicago has skyrocketed. There were 762 homicides in 2016, and through July of this year, there were 402. McCarthy blames the crime rate on what he described in an article for the conservative Heritage Foundation as “legal cynicism” — a climate in which cops and the law are defined as “illegitimate, unresponsive and ill-equipped to ensure public safety.”
When crime seems out of control and a city’s safety seems threatened, different priorities rule. Put another way, a society faced with anarchy or repression will always choose repression.
That’s what occurred in New York City in 1990, when homicides topped 2,000 and a New York Post headline, referring to then-Mayor David Dinkins, read, “Dave, Do Something!” The high crime rate led to the 1993 election of Rudy Giuliani as a law-and-order mayor.
McCarthy, born in the Bronx, is reprising that very theme. He said, “In my presentations, I cite what we did in New York under Giuliani and Bratton,” a reference to Giuliani’s appointment of Bill Bratton as police commissioner. With their policy of zero tolerance, NYC’s homicide rate plunged in 1996, a decline that continues to this day. Last year, there were 335 homicides in NYC.
Yet in NYC today, few speak of the Giuliani-Bratton crime turnabout. Rather, their successes are viewed through a different prism, which emphasizes the large number of young blacks sent to prison in those years.
We can only wait and watch how things play out in Chicago.