Chicago’s First Deputy Police Supt. Al Wysinger is in line for a $9,408-a-year pay raise — to $197,724 — thanks to an 11th-hour amendment slipped into Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s budget in response to questions from aldermen.
Earlier this month, Ald. Howard Brookins (21st), chairman of the City Council’s Black Caucus, put Police Supt. Garry McCarthy on the hot seat.
Brookins demanded to know why the mayor’s 2015 budget called for McCarthy’s trusted chief of crime control strategy Robert Tracy to be paid $194,256 a year while Wysinger, the police department’s No. 2 man, was in line for an annual salary of $188,316.
“The superintendent said, ‘No. They wouldn’t do that.’ [But] I went to the budget book and saw it was true,” Ald. Willie Cochran (20th), a former Chicago Police officer, recalled Tuesday.
“It was an issue that apparently needed to be brought to the superintendent’s attention, and they made a correction. It reflects Al being at a higher salary than Tracy.”
In a statement Tuesday, McCarthy said: “Al Wysigner has been my first deputy for more than three years and has been an important part of the progress we have made in reducing crime and violence throughout Chicago. I was unhappy to learn of the administrative oversight that would have cost him an increase he has earned and I asked that it immediately be corrected.”
As for Brookins, he said he decided to champion Wysinger’s cause — as the first deputy sat through the hearing in silence — after retired police officers brought the pay inequity to Brookins’ attention.
“They specifically pointed out that Al’s salary in the budget was less than Tracy’s. They wondered whether there was a back-handed attempt to demote” Wysinger,” the alderman said.
“That was my initial inquiry” to McCarthy: ‘If you’re demoting him, say something and we’ll figure out what our position is as a caucus. If you’re not, it sends the wrong message that you would pay a subordinate more money.’ ”
Cochran was asked whether Wysinger had brought the pay inequity to the attention of the Black Caucus.
“Al has not spoken one word to me about that. It’s right in the budget book,” Cochran said.
Mayoral spokesman Adam Collins said Emanuel “intended to include” pay raises for both the police and fire first deputies in his original budget proposal to match the increases traditionally given to all exempt-rank officers when contracts covering sworn officers are negotiated.
“Due to an administrative oversight, this was not originally reflected in the budget,” Collins wrote in an email.
Emanuel is trying to make amends with African-American voters who helped put him in office on the strength of President Barack Obama’s endorsement but abandoned him in droves after he closed a record 50 Chicago public schools.
The last thing he needs just over three months before the mayoral election is to be perceived as slighting one of the city’s highest-ranking African-American public officials.
Wysinger is a former deputy chief of detectives who was one of three finalists in the 2011 search for police superintendent ultimately won by McCarthy.
He boosted his profile on the day in 2007 when he ran down a gunman who shot a woman in a West Side gangway near his grandmother’s 80th birthday party.
His appointment to superintendent would have been a boon to morale among rank-and-file cops who longed for one of their own after three long years under former FBI supervisor Jody Weis.
But after a salary dispute doomed Charles Ramsey’s chances of becoming Chicago’s next police superintendent, Emanuel turned to Newark Police chief Garry McCarthy.
McCarthy was a driving force behind the CompStat program credited with dramatically reducing New York City’s homicide rate, where he worked together with Tracy.
When McCarthy came to Chicago, he brought Tracy along to be his right-hand man. Tracy is widely viewed as McCarthy’s sounding board and an architect of his crime-control strategies.
They range from 20 high-crime “impact zones” flooded with moonlighting police officers racking up overtime to gang audits and door-to-door “custom notifications” of recently released gang members.
In the spring, a Chicago Sun-Times poll showed how high a mountain Emanuel has to climb with black voters alienated by his first-term decision-making.
Only 8 percent of African-Americans surveyed said they would support Emanuel if the election were held today.
Contributing: Frank Main