Crain’s Says Chop The Head Off
By Bob Starks
In its June 13th edition, Crain’s Chicago Business Editorial Board called for the resignation of Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy to resign! The editorial entitled “Time to take McCarthy off the beat,” the lead statement read “No one person can singlehandedly solve Chicago’s crime problem. But the Chicago Police Department needs a leader with a grasp of the causes of crime and clear strategies to address them. After four years on the job, it’s clear that Superintendent Garry McCarthy isn’t that man”. It’s clear that Crain’s Chicago Business thinks that chopping of the head of police will change things.
As can be imagined, this editorial call coming from the premier business publication in the city has stirred some public discussion, controversy and political debate. Two days later, Mike Flannery, of Fox News 32 reported, “The Chairman of the City Council’s Black Caucus, Alderman Roderick Sawyer, told them that his group may call for firing Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy”. Alderman Sawyer further stated that the Caucus had planned to meet on Wednesday, June 17th to decide the course that the caucus would take in this matter. The Caucus did meet on Wednesday, however they made no commitment to ask for his resignation. Instead they agreed to have Alderman Sawyer meet with McCarthy this week to ascertain his plans for an overall reduction in crime, better deployment of officers, and greater representation of African Americans on the force. Mr. Sawyer stated that he and the caucus are not necessarily adversaries because they realize that one person is not responsible for the escalation in crime. At the same time they want more and clearer communications between the CPD hierarchy and the Black Caucus.
The major complaints against McCarthy are that he is from New York City and has brought NYC “street cop” tactics to the city that are not applicable. This approach according to FOX News, “Called CompStat, it uses computer analysis of crime and other data to hold officers — and the department’s top brass — accountable. What the numbers show right now is that Chicago’s 194 homicides murders are about 20 more than at this time in 2013 and 2014. The total number of shootings – 1,122 – is way up.”
African American West and Southside complaints against McCarthy range from the continual rise in crime to the increasing number of police shootings of Black citizens.
- Chicago consistently has one of the highest crime rates in the country
- In a May 29th, 2014 report from the Illinois Herald, “Chicago ignoring Marijuana Decriminalization Law”, it states that Chicago has become the nation’s leader in arrests for persons possessing less than $5 worth of marijuana. The thousands of petty marijuana possession arrests prevent police from engaging in the prevention of and solving of the escalating number of murders. Black citizens believe that policemen are rewarded on the number of arrests that they make rather than the crime cases that they solve. This practice results in the imprisoning of thousands of nonviolent adults rather than murderers and shooters.
- The Illinois Herald report is based on a study done by the Roosevelt University Consortium on Drug Policy. This study concludes: 1) “The Chicago law, for instance, gives CPD officers the right to basically do whatever they want. Officers can dispose of the small amount of marijuana and let the offender go. They can write a simple ticket to the person, which is what the 2012 law intended. Or officers can continue the failed policy of arresting and criminally charging people;” 2) CPD in 2013 “chose to criminally arrest 93 percent of those they found in possession of minor amounts of marijuana.;” 3) While arrests of persons possessing small amounts of marijuana was increasing “the ratio between marijuana ‘possession’ arrests and marijuana ‘distribution’ arrests” was disproportionate to the number of arrests for possession. “Chicago leads the nation in arresting average citizens for possession of pot, while at the same time leaving the drug dealers and traffickers alone.” The great majority of those arrests for possession are Black; and 4) While police in middle class and wealthy suburban communities adhere to the state law and write tickets to those who possess small amounts of pot, the same discretion is followed on college and university campuses like Northwestern. Chicago’s Black citizens believe that this difference can be explained by examining the tradition of racism in CPD.
- Chicago has the reputation as the highest number of shooting of Black citizens by police in the nation, most whom have been unarmed. Police shoot Black citizens with impunity, realizing that in the history of the city only one policeman has been convicted of shooting and killing a Black person. When policemen kill Blacks they state that they felt that their lives were in danger at the time of their action. It is at this point that Superintendent McCarthy, Mayor Emanuel and the policeman’s union in unison support them regardless of the facts.
- Illegal guns continue to flow into the city and flood the streets. The mayor and Superintendent McCarthy constantly boast of the number guns that are confiscated from criminals. Yet, CPD has done little to stop the flow of these guns from reaching the streets!
- There is no tangible evidence of positive changes that have resulted from McCarthy’s so-called “listening tour”.
- According to a recent ACLU study, Blacks are stopped by police more than four times as often as New York’s stop-and-frisk practice. New York’s stop-and-frisk practice was in place in New York while McCarthy was a New York policeman.
- Lastly, it is clear that most African Americans do not trust CPD officers because they are convinced that CPD does not take the solving of crime committed in the Black community seriously. This perception is supported by the statistics that show the low number of murders, rapes and robberies that are solved on the South and West sides of the city as compared with other parts of the city.
Regardless of the outcome of the meetings with Alderman Sawyer and the Black Caucus, they will have to take into consideration the complaints levelled against CPD and Mr. McCarthy by the Black community. In spite of the solid support that Mayor Emanuel and Alderman Burke have voiced for Mr. McCarthy, the Black community is unified in their determination to see some real changes in crime reduction and the relationship of the CPD hierarchy to this community.