What Exactly is Rahm Emanuel's Firing of His Police Chief Supposed to Accomplish?

The Chicago mayor dismissed his police superintendent, but the problems with the department are systemic.



Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced this morning that he had fired Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, who had served as the head of the Chicago Police Department since 2011, when Emanuel first took office.

The firing comes after tensions over the October 2014 police killing of Laquan McDonald, back in the news because a judge ordered dash cam video showing a Chicago police officer firing 16 rounds at 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was armed with a knife but trying to move away from the cop when he was shot.

The order to release that video prompted the state's attorney, Anita Alvarez, to go ahead and indict Jason Van Dyke, the officer who shot and killed McDonald. Alvarez insisted she had already made the decision "weeks ago" but wanted to wait for federal authorities to end their investigation. Alvarez is not an employee of McCarthy or the police department, so McCarthy can't be blamed for the fact that thirteen months after McDonald was killed no kind of trial had yet started.

Also contributing to McCarthy's firing, was the spotlight placed on Chicago's homicide problem after gang members from South Side executed 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee.

McCarthy's mandate since he took office was to bring violent crimes, and especially murders, down. As The Chicago Sun-Times reports:

When he first entered office in 2011, McCarthy carried out Emanuel's campaign pledge of eliminating roving citywide task forces responsible for seizing guns and drugs and concentrated on putting officers on beats in districts.

Then he created "impact zones," six-block areas with major crime problems, in 12 police districts.

Cops working in office jobs have been moved into the impact zones to bolster beat cops.

Moving yet another round of officers from desk jobs to street duty was the only alternative to appease aldermen whose residents are clamoring for more officers to reduce the spike in homicides, shootings and gang violence that continues to plague Chicago.

Chicago had more than 900 murders per year for two years in a row in the mid-1990s, a record high for the city. Since then, crime, and homicides, have more or less steadily decreased. The highest number of homicides recorded under Emanuel's administration was 504, in 2012, the year after he took office. The first three months of this year saw a spike in homicides over the same period in 2014, but that spike brought the levels back to where they were when Emanuel first entered office in 2011.

It's unclear how McCarthy's firing will either improve police accountability or lower crime. McCarthy was the police superintendent throughout Emanuel's first term, and the chief of police he held on to through his ultimately successful re-election campaign. Now, Emanuel says, McCarthy "has become an issue rather than dealing with the issue."

Yet, nothing's changed about the situation in Chicago other than the optics. Police were just as brutal and unaccountable before video of the Laquan McDonald killing was released, and gang violence was a major problem in Chicago before and after the Tyshawn Lee killing.

And, on police accountability at least, McCarthy has been consistently resistant to it since first coming on board for Emanuel. Earlier this year, he argued criminally charging cops for fatal shootings created a "safety hazard" for them. The comments came after Dante Servin, a Chicago police officer, had been charged in relation to an incident where Servin shot his gun while it was over his shoulder at a crowd of people behind him while driving the wrong way down a one way street.

McCarthy is the man Emanuel put his trust and confidence in to lead the Chicago Police Department, for nearly five years. The city spends an average of $1 million a week resolving lawsuits against police officers. Nearly 18,000 complaints were filed against police officers in the last four years.

 "Our goal is to build the trust and confidence with the public," Emanuel said this morning. If McCarthy's failed, then surely so has Emanuel. He should be resigning as well.

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  1. What is it supposed to accomplish? Misdirection and appeasement.

    What do I win?

    1. A visit by Officer Friendly.

    2. There is a term that describes the activities of some mutual fund managers who buy and sell stocks right at the end of the quarterly reporting period so that the list of investments they publish on that basis will show a lot of the stocks that have gone up lately even though their fund did not actually participate in the gain.

      That term is called “window dressing”.

      I’d say something similar applies here.

      1. Potemkin village is another good term.

  2. sacrifice to the mob

    1. I should add the police killing was completely unjustified and abhorrent, but meaningless acts to satiate demands are about as logical as throwing people in volcanos

      1. I’m listening…

        1. Frazier Crane, is that you?

      2. I don’t doubt for one second that Rahm is just doing this because of politics, nor do I doubt that the guy who replaces McCarthy will be a worthless sack of shit in the same vein as his predecessor. Still, McCarthy, like most police chiefs, should have been fired a long time ago.

      3. If he had thrown the chief in a volcano, that actually would be an improvement.

      4. Be honest: What would you do if you had the opportunity to envulcan a police chief?

  3. Appointees serve at the pleasure of Hizzoner, which is why they make useful scapegoats. This is fake accountability the same way charging Van Dyke with murder one is fake accountability.

    1. Appointees serve at the pleasure of Hizzoner

      “Let’s face it, you can’t Torquemada anything!”

    2. A cop being actually convicted of M1 would require a second miracle.

      The first miracle was that the dash cam recording did not somehow get erased.

      1. When I first read about the murder-one charge, I almost let myself get happy that finally a pig might get what’s coming to him…and then I came back to reality.

        Thought the same thing about it taking a miracle to actually convict him. Smells just like the Dante Servin case from earlier this year where he was purposely “under-charged” by the state’s attorney who’s in bed with the pigs. Charged with manslaughter, but the judge was forced to throw it out because knowingly reckless conduct (like emptying a clip over your shoulder while in a speeding car) rises to the level of murder, by statute. Had to find him not guilty of manslaughter, end of story, no double-jeopardy, pig walks free.

        I see the same thing happening here. Probably have more than enough to get an indictment on murder-one, but no way a conviction actually happens. They know this going in, and don’t go for the proper charge so the pig can skate.

      2. And oh yeah, truly a miracle that the dash cam footage survived (didn’t even bother to trot out the common “wasn’t turned on” excuse), and even more of a miracle that the Tribune got its hands on four other dash cam videos showing different angles.

        But there’s a Burger King across the street from where this happened, and the security camera footage from there now has a Nixonian 86-minute gap after the goon squad barged in minutes after the shooting, and threatened the manager to let them review the tape in private.

  4. Covering Emanuel’s ass, and protecting the Narrative that Democrat politicians are the one sure protection that minorities have.

    1. Aren’t most black murder victims located in inner cities that are run by Democrat politicians?

      1. Shhh don’t confuse people with facts

  5. The order to release that video prompted the state’s attorney, Anita Alvarez, to go ahead and indict Jason Van Dyke…

    Forced, not prompted.

  6. Rahm thinks it is 1994, and that firing one guy will get everyone back off so that he can get back to business as usual.

  7. What Exactly is Rahm Emanuel’s Firing of His Police Chief Supposed to Accomplish?

    Let me guess, you still don’t get why you’ve never won 3-Card-Monty?

    1. Imma get the red card this time, for sure!

        1. I would also like to point out that is exactly how I imagine Pan Z. to look, dress, and act like.

          1. Perfect.

            The first time I heard Serbo-Croatian rap was in Sarajevo in 1997. I almost understood why someone would want to siege the city – to destroy the radio station playing it.

  8. “prompted the state’s attorney, Anita Alvarez, to go ahead and *indict* Jason Van Dyke”

    Numero uno, grand juries issue indictments, not prosecutors.

    Numero two-o, I don’t think there’s been an indictment in this case. Instead, my understanding is that the prosecutor initiated probable-cause hearing before a judge, without any involvement of a grand jury.

    Illinois law permits this procedure, and the US Supreme Court allows this sort of thing. According to the Supremes, the states don’t have to use grand juries, as opposed to the feds who, under the Fifth Amendment, have to use grand juries for “capital or otherwise infamous crime[s].”

    Now, the Supremes have said the states have to obey most of the Bill of Rights, but they have so far made a few exceptions, the grand jury clause being one.

    But as I understand it, if the judge doesn’t find probable cause, the prosecutor can go to a grand jury and ask for an indictment. So the prosecutor gets two bites at the apple.

    1. At this stage of the proceedings, as I understand it, neither a judge nor a grand jury has found probable cause exists. The judge is considering it.


        It is a preliminary hearing – here is the schedule:…..rings.aspx

        Sorry, I just couldn’t take it anymore…

        /Former ASA

        1. From your link:

          “A felony preliminary hearing is a pretrial proceeding in which a judge determines whether there is *probable cause* to believe a felony was committed and, if so, whether there is *probable cause* to believe that it was the defendant who committed the felony.”

          1. I get to refer to a hearing as a probable cause hearing if the hearing’s whole *point* is to ascertain whether there’s probable cause.

            If they want to call it by a vaguer name which doesn’t fully state its purpose, they can go for it.

            1. Do you refer to William Clinton as “Bill”? That’s not his *official* name, is it?

              And I bet the kids love it when you talk about “the albums of Calvin Broadus, Jr.

              1. And I bet your name isn’t actually Swiss Servator, either.

                1. BUT…if you’ve prosecuted people in the Illinois courts, what do *you* think about the status of grand juries in Illinois?

                  1. The following words and phrases do *not* appear in the Constitution.

                    So stop using them!

                    Bill of Rights
                    Separation of Powers
                    War Powers

        2. Hold on just a minute, I just checked, and in discussing this case before on H&R I’ve actually noted more than once that the prosecution had filed a “Complaint for Preliminary Examination.”

          Colloquially called a “preliminary hearing,” apparently. But I used the correct term “Examination.” I’m picky that way.

          1. Colloquially called a “complaint for preliminary hearing,” apparently, etc., etc.

            Well, that’s been fun, and I’m glad you had a chance to get your rage on, I suppose it’s good mental exercise.

  9. Here’s what it accomplishes:

    The ex-Chief can now collect his pension AND double-dip as a consultant. Win-win!

    1. He’ll be the first member selected for the new Police Accountability Committee.

  10. Welcome to your gun-controlled Utopia

    1. lol

  11. Chicago decrimed small amounts of cannabis. Consumers can consume. The people (gangs) moving weight are still in the police cross hairs.

    It is almost like they are repeating alcohol Prohibition. Well not almost.

    1. Chicago decrimed small amounts of cannabis. Consumers can consume.

      Sure, if the cops decide to use their discretion not to charge them.

      I can only imagine how many times that happens on the South Side vs. the North Side.

  12. Well he should be fired and,someone willing to make the systematic chances necessary should be brought in to replace him. The fact that the second thing is not going to happen doesn’t mean the first shouldn’t. Better than firing the cops staff Sargent as a scapegoat who has even less control over systematic issues. We know this was pure deflection but not sure why the chief doesn’t deserve the ax.

  13. so McCarthy can’t be blamed for the fact that thirteen months after McDonald was killed no kind of trial had yet started.

    Like hell he can’t. It’s a political appointment: the office has the ability to make deals with other city and state offices and that is what it does every minute of every day.

  14. It’s unclear how McCarthy’s firing will either improve police accountability or lower crime.

    To be fair, it was unclear how McCarthy’s hiring would either improve accountability or lower crime.

    The CPD is reclassifying some cases as “undetermined cause of death” that would have been classified as homicides years earlier. (Chicago Magazine did a series on this a couple years ago.)

    an incident where Servin shot his gun while it was over his shoulder at a crowd of people behind him while driving the wrong way down a one way street.

    Ed conveniently leaves out the fact that Alvarez took him to trial on manslaughter charges and the judge threw it out because Alavarez didn’t make the “exactly correct” criminal charge in which to convict Servin. You have to be either purposely dishonest or a complete idiot to pretend that the Servin case has had no bearing on Alvarez’s handling of the Van Dyke indictment or lack thereof. It is painfully obvious that the CPD Chief Of Police has more clout in the state justice system than Alvarez.

    The mayor and the aldermen WANT police gunning down people – that is obvious from their actions the past 60 years. They will just never say the words The CPD Chief’s job is to take the bullet for the politicians when the heat gets turned up and McCarthy knew it before he threw his hat in the ring.

  15. What Exactly is Rahm Emanuel’s Firing of His Police Chief Supposed to Accomplish?

    Placate the proles?

  16. The highest number of homicides recorded under Emanuel’s administration was 504, in 2012, the year after he took office. … If McCarthy’s failed, then surely so has Emanuel. He should be resigning as well.

    Unless either of them can come up with a valid reason for Chicago’s murder rate to be more than triple that of NYC, yes – they should both resign in disgrace.

  17. It makes it look like that Obo boot-licker is ‘doing something’.

  18. Dude that looks like its gonna be good. Wow.

  19. If I have correctly followed the story, the city of Chicago, presumably with the Mayor’s consent, agreed to a large damage payment in the case, one term of which was keeping the video secret. If that is true, the Mayor was complicit in concealing the crime, is arguably (along with many others) an accessory after the fact. Am I mistaken in the facts?

    In Illinois law, an accessory after the fact is subject to the same penalty as the felon he was an accessory to.

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