While the rest of the world has ISIS to contend with, the US has Chicago, a city where the number of annual homicides will easily outpace the death count of even the most gruesome terrorist incident – a sad reality which most of America, and certainly Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, has closed its eyes to.
But in the aftermath of the latest police shooting controversy involving the dashboard video documenting the shooting death Laquan McDonald, as well that following the gang execution of Tyshawn Lee, which stirred national tempers, there had to be a fall guy, and sure enough moments ago the Chicago Police Chief Garry McCarthy was fired by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, according to the Chicago Sun Times.
As the Chicago paper reports, McCarthy was called into City Hall on Monday and when he left City Hall he still had a job. But overnight, the mayor called McCarthy to tell him he was out. “Now is the time for fresh ideas and new leadership” the mayor said.
Clearly, he did not mean new mayoral leadership.
According to the WSJ, Emanuel said he asked for the chief’s resignation. He also thanked Mr. McCarthy for his service, but said he had become a distraction from the larger issues on policing the city must address.
McCarthy appeared “shell-shocked” by the news, Sun Times sources said.
But Chicago Police superintendents are like baseball managers and football coaches. They’re hired to be fired. Failure and crises are literally built into the job. When it comes, a head needs to roll. The sacrificial lamb inevitably is the man on top—even though he’s not responsible for the number of wins and losses.
McCarthy is no different. He’s a fighter who firmly believed he had earned to right to decide when the timing was right to retire from the pressure-cooker job after surviving a serious heart attack more than a year ago.
Rahm Emanuel, who according to the Sun Times, “hates creating political scapegoats, of serving up heads on platters” did just that as the pressure to get rid of McCarthy was coming from all sides.
The final straw appeared to be a front-page editorial in Tuesday’s Chicago Sun-Times. That followed the Washington Post and nearly every black elected official in the Chicago area.
McCarthy is a former operations chief at the New York Police Department who went on to run the police department in Newark, N.J.
He was hired by Emanuel shortly before the 2011 inauguration after the mayor’s first choice, former Chicago Deputy Superintendent Charles Ramsey, demanded a salary in excess of $400,000.
The Sun Times adds that with his big ego, brash persona and fast-talking, outspoken style, McCarthy was a police chief out of central casting long before there was a locally-filmed television series called “Chicago P.D.”
During the 2012 NATO summit, McCarthy was hailed as a hero for leading his troops from the front and diffusing a potentially volatile confrontation with Black Bloc provocateurs at Cermak and Michigan. A grateful City Council passed a resolution praising his performance and jokingly calling him Chicago’s very own General Douglas McArthur.
As the paper further details, Emanuel may have had an ulterior motive, as “some wondered whether the mayor who is used to being the center of attention was privately seething about all of the attention directed at McCarthy when it was Emanuel whose political neck was on the line.”
But, the worm started to turn for McCarthy after his police strategies failed to reduce a surge in police shootings. “The Chicago Sun-Times may have put the final nail in McCarthy’s coffin with a front-page editorial demanding the superintendent’s ouster. The Washington Post, which helps determines a national image that Emanuel covets, had previously done the same.”
And now, inquiring minds wonder what happens now, when once again nothing changes following this rotation at the top, and when the culture of constant homicides in Chicago continues. Will Rahm Emanuel ever be forced to take the proverbial bullet for that, or will he just find another convenient scapegoat?