Hello London? Chicago calling.
Former Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy is on the short list to become the next boss of greater London’s Metropolitan Police Service, if we here at our city’s tabloid are to believe recent reports in one of the U.K.’s scrappy daily newspapers.
On our side of the pond, the general response to the stories in The Sun can be summed up like this:
Have you gone bloody mad?!
McCarthy has kept mum here since Mayor Rahm Emanuel abruptly sacked him two months ago. But according to an article published Saturday, McCarthy gave an exclusive interview to The Sun boasting of his accomplishments at the CPD.
And he vowed to wow the British capitol if given the chance to lead the huge and famous police force known as Scotland Yard.
A week earlier, The Sun reported McCarthy was among five foreign police officials “in the running to be the U.K.’s top cop.”
“I’d fix London’s police the way I sorted Chicago’s,” he’s quoted as saying in The Sun story, which was reported from McCarthy’s hometown of New York.
Please mind the gap separating McCarthy’s track record as described in The Sun and the reality of what Chicago lived during more than four years with McCarthy as Emanuel’s first police chief.
The Sun notes Emanuel fired McCarthy “after the shooting by one of his officers of black teen Laquan McDonald, who was carrying a knife.” It won’t take Sherlock Holmes to find out there’s a lot more to the Laquan McDonald story than this terse, highly sanitized description.
There’s no mention in The Sun of the dash-cam video showing Laquan angling away from Office Jason Van Dyke, who has been charged with murder.
Nor is there any mention of the 16 shots Van Dyke fired into Laquan, most of them after he had already crumpled to the street.
And we still haven’t heard McCarthy try to explain why his department did not move to fire Van Dyke or discipline other officers who falsely claimed Laquan lunged at police.
Despite the McDonald case, The Sun says, “McCarthy remains proud of his record in Chicago.” According to the British newspaper, “Murder rates fell two years running” during McCarthy’s tenure in Chicago.
Yes, it’s true that homicides decreased in 2013 and 2014. But that’s only impressive in comparison to the more than 500 murders in 2012, during McCarthy’s first full year on the job. That was the highest murder total in the city in nearly a decade. Last year, the homicide rate ticked back up again.
The Sun also failed to point out that U.S. Department of Justice civil-rights investigations trailed McCarthy at the CPD as well as at his previous job as top cop for Newark, N.J.
The Sun interview shows how McCarthy continues to be able to bend the narrative as artfully as a David Beckham free kick.
McCarthy may have been doing the same sort of spin job last week, when he appeared on a panel at the Major Cities Chiefs Association in San Antonio. The title of the session: “Getting fired before the work is done.”
Asked what McCarthy told his audience there, an official for the association said, “Our meetings are closed to the public. It’s for the members only.”
McCarthy told The Sun that the London job — which would involve overseeing three times as many officers as the CPD has — is on his career “bucket list.”
It’s hard to rate the odds of McCarthy becoming what our local police blog called “Garry Poppins.”
Police officials in London declined to comment on The Sun report. They say Britain’s Home Secretary would get input from the mayor of London and make a recommendation to the Queen.
Her Majesty would be well advised to keep calm and remember Laquan.