Mitchell: Police Supt. McCarthy clings to stats, offers little hope

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It was nearly two hours into a City Council budget hearing before a black alderman unloaded frustrations on Chicago Police Supt.

Garry McCarthy for the spike in homicides and shootings in the city.

And the fusillade didn’t come from an alderman who regularly criticizes McCarthy.It came from Ald. Carrie Austin (34th), Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s most loyal ally.

After several African-American aldermen grilled McCarthy on components of his policing strategy, including questions about diversity, Austin could no longer hold her peace.

“What is it that you can tell us that we can do? Not all of those statistics that you just said tell us what it is that we can do to help the police department rid our communities of all of this violence?” asked Austin, chairman of the City Council’s budget committee.

OPINION

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The day before, Austin had joined members of the Black Caucus in calling for the ouster of McCarthy, saying he has been unresponsive to the “quality of life” issues affecting predominantly black communities.

Despite that call, African-American aldermen were restrained in their criticism at the hearing.

Ald. Walter Burnett (27th) even praised McCarthy for the additional use of bicycles on the force. He also gave the top cop assurances that he would stand behind aggressive policing.

“I know some of your officers are frustrated because of the things that are going on nationwide. … In my ward, your police officers can do what they have to do to get the riffraff off the street,” he said.

RELATED: Rahm gives McCarthy a boost — Black Caucus prefers the boot Mihalopoulos: Ald. Burns could wind up feeling the heat

As he has done in the past, McCarthy laid the blame for the spike in shooting on the proliferation of illegal guns on the street and the judicial system’s failure to lock up gun violators for longer periods.

Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) challenged McCarthy’s continued focus on a legislative solution to the shootings.

“You were on TV every other week stating crime was down because of your strategic plan. … Now crime is up, you are saying it’s weak laws on the books. I believe it is still your plan that is failing the residents of the city of Chicago,” Beale said.

After nearly two hours, Austin, who was sitting next to McCarthy, had heard enough.

“Even if the law changed … what is it still that we can do as elected officials that is going to better our communities and allow our children to have a life to live? she asked, her voice swelling with emotion.

“Let’s get on a bus and go to Springfield. Let’s go to Springfield,” McCarthy said.

Obviously, no one wants to go to Springfield right about now.

McCarthy was hired to lead the Chicago Police Department primarily because he did not have friends or connections that have led to cronyism in the past.

He may soon be headed out of town for the same reason.

Because instead of forming alliances with black aldermen who are on the frontline of the drug war, he has alienated them.

Indeed, maybe he would better understand where these elected officials were coming from if he spent a few nights on the blocks where these aldermen live.

On Tuesday, black aldermen needed reassurances from the top cop that the good guys could win this war — not more of the same. Because while statistics look good on paper, in this situation, they do nothing for the soul.

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