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Rahm’s Choice?

Chicago Illinois mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel picked Newark New Jersey police director Garry McCarthy to be Chicago’s new police chief. The soon to be chief declared that “I’ll have cops’ backs” in response to the announcement. But what exactly does that mean?

Mr McCarthy will be leaving behind a Newark Police Department that ranked the 13th worst in the US for police misconduct in 2010 per our NPMSRP statistical report for departments of it’s size. The array of allegations against that department which led up to this ranking were so numerous and, interestingly, so rarely sustained that the ACLU formally requested a federal investigation to determine if the department could be subjected to federal oversight to deal with an apparent pattern and practice of excessive force and lack of accountability.

Among the 21 individual reports against Newark NJ police that we tracked in 2010 were cases that alleged a lack of accountability including allegations that police were covering for a detective involved in a fatal DUI accident when that detective remained on the job and wasn’t criminally charged over the incident and a narcotics detective who was returned to duty despite being arrested by the FBI for obstruction on allegations he coached a man to lie about how he paid for sexual encounters with minors and robbing alleged drug dealers.

By declaring up front that he will have the “cops’ backs” is Mr. McCarthy letting the Chicago police union, which protested against the current chief when they blamed him for an officer being sentenced to prison over a video of that officer hitting a man cuffed to a wheelchair, that he’ll run the Chicago PD in the same fashion as the Newark NJ police department? Is this a thinly veiled statement that there will be less accountability and transparency in a Chicago police department which already has been plagued with misconduct and accountability scandals that continue to this day?

One thing is clear, the people of Chicago, with the second largest police force in the US, should watch their police department carefully under Rahm Emanuel and Garry McCarthy’s leadership. Lest that city face the same problems that McCarthy is leaving behind in Newark which has a tenth of the number of officers employed by Chicago. Especially considering that, since 2008, Newark NJ has spent $1,700,000 settling lawsuit filed by officers mostly on discrimination complaints and over $766,000 in 18 of the 23 settlements offered to citizens in false arrest and other misconduct complaints.

With 10 times the officers as what he managed in Newark soon to be under his command, it should be concerning what that might cost Chicago if he uses a similar management style there, not only in litigation, but in civil rights and reputation as well.

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