When someone is selected to be the Police Superintendent, not only do they become the head of their particular police department, but they inherit the full clout and authority of being the boss.
In the Chicago Police Department, Garry McCarthy was the boss, hand-picked by the city’s mayor Rahm Emanuel.
From the beginning of his term in 2011, until its untimely end Tuesday, McCarthy oversaw a department steeped in claims of excessive force, the underreporting of aggravated assaults, and the cover up of such gross incidents as Laquan McDonald’s death.
For these abhorrent miscarriages of justice, Garry McCarthy deserved to be fired because he failed to uphold the basic principles of justice and human decency, which should be the first priority of a person in his position.
But Rahm Emanuel’s firing of McCarthy should not be seen as a wholesale purging of the problems weighing down the CPD. Many of the people who contribute to the ongoing corruption in Chicago still have jobs.
From the officers who allegedly deleted Burger King’s security footage the night of McDonald’s death, right up to the man responsible for hiring Garry McCarthy in the first place – Rahm Emanuel.
There’s one brutal truism about this case that should startle the hell out of everyone who reads it: If it wasn’t for one freelance journalist, none of this would be an issue today.
If Brandon Smith didn’t sue Chicago to get the tape released, the initial statement that McDonald died of a single shot to the chest likely would’ve become the sole narrative of his demise. That means, the officers who responded to the scene and the senior officers at the department were complicit in covering up the heinous and unjustified actions of a fellow police officer for over an entire year.
And while the officers involved in this cover-up deserve to be punished, it’s becoming increasingly clear that state attorney, Anita Alvarez, needs to be fired for her ongoing role in this tragedy, and others.
Not only is Alvarez the same woman who undercharged the cop who murdered Rekia Boyd (against the family’s wishes), leading to the eventual dismissal of all charges against the officer – she also is the prosecutor who indicted Officer Van Dyke more than a year since McDonald’s death.
Even after city hall was prepared to pay the McDonald family $5 million in damages, Alvarez continued to drag her feet on this case until a judge affirmed the tape’s public release. That is not the behavior of a prosecutor concerned with doing the main function of their job: Finding justice.
And while the entire Cook County prosector’s office deserves blame, where was the Independent Police Review Authority in all of this? The IPRA is the group charged with investigating police murders, yet it took one independent journalist to unearth the video they should’ve had their hands on a long time ago?
Then again, of the almost 400 police shootings that have taken place since 2007, the IPRA has only found one case of officer misconduct. And when ex-supervisor Lorenzo Davis stated his investigations proved more officers needed to be charged for the murders they committed, he was fired.
With all that said, the one man who towers over all of these different individuals and institutions is Mayor Rahm Emanuel. If we can surmise that ignorance is no excuse for those in positions of power, than Emanuel can not be given room to frame systemic failures as merely the actions of rogue individuals.
While we should all be glad that Garry McCarthy is no longer able to infect Chicago with his mediocre policing, we should all collectively look forward to seeing all others, from officers to prosecutors, get fired for their negligence and incompetence as well.