Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy spent nearly $100 million on police overtime last year to produce an 18 percent drop in homicides. But, at least one influential alderman is not impressed.
“Don’t tell me about no statistics of McCarthy’s. You say, `Well, statistically, we’re down. That means crap to me when I know that someone else has been shot,” said Budget Committee Carrie Austin (34th), whose Far South Side ward includes Roseland, where Chicago’s first homicide of 2014 took place.
“My uptick is still gang-related. If that can be squashed, it would be a help for us….Superintendent McCarthy said when he first got to Chicago that he was going to go after the gang leaders and hold them accountable. I haven’t seen that happen out in Roseland. Maybe if he would bring that same statement and force to Roseland, then maybe it would happen.”
Police Department spokesman Adam Collins issued an e-mailed statement in response to Austin’s broadside.
“While 2013 saw historic lows in crime and violence throughout the city, every member of the Chicago Police Department believes strongly that there’s more work to be done and no one will rest until everyone in this city enjoys the same sense of safety,” Collins wrote.
“Our comprehensive strategy includes components such as putting additional officers in high-crime areas, using intelligence to prevent retaliatory gang shootings, moving officers from administrative positions back to the streets, and partnering closely with local leaders and residents, because we all have a role to play in the safety of our city. To reduce violence for the long-term our state and our country need better laws to keep illegal guns out of our communities and punish the criminals who carry them.”
Police sources further noted that murders and shootings in the 5th District, which includes Roseland,were down in 2013 — so much so that the district commander was promoted to area deputy chief.
Wednesday’s jab was not the first time Austin has turned up the heat on McCarthy.
Last summer, she demanded that the superintendent develop a “separate strategy” — possibly a strike-force just for Area 2 — after two girls, ages 12 and 13, were shot while walking home from a park before dark.
Nikia Turner and Tishona Polk were not the intended targets. A motorist speeding and swerving down the street while blaring loud music allegedly fired on a passing car and hit the girls instead.
“We’re at the National Guard level now,” Austin, chairman of the City Council’s Budget Committee, said on that day in utter frustration.
“It has gotten so out of hand, you’ve got to show what your strategy is to combat this because we’re at Defcon 3.”