clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

McCarthy sees ‘crisis’ in Chicago’s murder rate

Former Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy is interviewed for a "60 Minutes" story about Chicago's murder rate. | CBS/60 Minutes

Former Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy tells “60 Minutes” he sees a “huge problem” in the way the city is handling its skyrocketing murder rate.

“When people are dying, yes, there’s crisis,” McCarthy says in an interview with the CBS news program. “No two ways about it.”

“60 Minutes” correspondent Bill Whitaker traveled to Chicago to report on the alarming number of murders in the past year. In the six days “60 Minutes” worked in Chicago, 55 people were shot and 16 were killed, according to a network release.

Whitaker’s report, “Crisis in Chicago,” will air at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 1, on CBS.

The program’s study of all 22 Chicago police districts reveals that while more than 4,000 people have been shot and more than 750 people have been killed in 2016, street stops by police have dropped 80 percent and arrests by 33 percent.

McCarthy, who was fired in late 2015, tells Whitaker he worries about those statistics.

“The police activity is horrific. Honestly. And there’s not an excuse that could be made in my book,” he says. “The noncompliance of the law is becoming legitimized. And the police are on their heels. . . . We’re reaching a state of lawlessness.”

The report contends that the fall-off in police activity is the result of controversies ignited by videos of police confrontations and shootings. The 2014 death of Laquan McDonald, a black 17-year-old who was fatally shot 16 times by a white police officer, caused much public unrest. The officer, Jason Van Dyke, is awaiting trial for first-degree murder.

According to “60 Minutes,” Whitaker asks the new superintendent, Eddie Johnson, whether the fall-off is directly connected to the crime rate. Johnson suggests “there may be some” connections, but the drop in arrests and stops has more to do with stricter policies and increased paperwork for stops.

“It’s not what the police officers are not doing,” Johnson says in the segment. “It’s more about what these . . . criminal offenders are doing.”

“60 Minutes” found that since the Justice Department began investigating CPD and the American Civil Liberties Union threatened to sue the department, officers have been ordered to be more selective about who they stop and are required to write a detailed, two-page report on each one.

Whitaker and his team spoke with a dozen patrolmen off camera. According to “60 Minutes,” they all said they have taken a step back.

Former Chicago Police Officer Brian Warner, who was shot in the line of duty in 2011 and now counsels officers, tells Whitaker in an interview that officers are no longer proactively looking for lawbreakers.

“No. They’re not,” Warner says. “And how could you ask them to be? And why would you expect them to be?”

Johnson defends his officers in the story, and explains that he is implementing a plan to hire and promote 1,000 officers to address Chicago’s rising crime rate.

Curt Wagner covers TV news in Chicago and beyond. Read more of his work at