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Ex-top cop McCarthy: ‘Lot of people’ urging me to challenge Rahm

Former Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy at the City Club of Chicago in 2016. | Santiago Covarrubias/Sun-Times file

Former Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said Wednesday “a lot of people” are encouraging him to run for mayor in 2019, but politics is “not in my DNA” and he’s “not very good at that.”

Instead of challenging the man who fired him, the outspoken and frustrated McCarthy offered to do what he views as the next best thing: support a challenger in the event that Mayor Rahm Emanuel decides to seek a third term.

“I would support anybody who would start thinking about performance-based government rather than politics. Because that’s what we need in Chicago,” McCarthy said during an interview on WLS-Radio.

“There’s no measurements. There’s nobody holding anybody accountable. It’s all about politics and communications strategy. And I’m sorry. That just doesn’t work to get things done in a big city.”

Emanuel refused to comment on the latest in a series of broadsides from the former New York City deputy-turned Newark police chief he brought to Chicago to run the Chicago Police Department at a very different time politically.

After claiming that he had McCarthy’s back for weeks, Emanuel abruptly fired his only police superintendent on Dec. 1, 2015.

At the time, the mayor claimed that McCarthy had become a “distraction” in the unrelenting furor that followed the court-ordered release of a video played around the world of white Police Officer Jason Van Dyke pumping sixteen rounds into the body of black teenager Laquan McDonald.

McCarthy has been on the warpath ever since. He’s been particularly frustrated by the surge in homicides and shootings that followed his firing and by the scathing indictment of the Chicago Police Department prepared by a U.S. Justice Department that didn’t even bother to interview the former superintendent.

On Wednesday, McCarthy continued to call the Emanuel administration “illegitimate.” He was referring to the end-run around the Police Board’s nationwide search that allowed the mayor to replace McCarthy with Eddie Johnson, who didn’t even apply for the superintendent’s job.

“You can’t have legitimate policing unless you have legitimate government. And just look at the selection process for my replacement as superintendent,” he said.

“The City Council voted 50-to-0 to change the law for one day. A municipal statute. There’s a method that the superintendent is selected. And what we did in Chicago is, we completely skirted it. We changed the law for one day. If the rules [don’t] apply to government, they can’t apply to policing. I can’t believe that we can’t see that.”

He added, “The problem in Chicago is not the police. It’s illegitimate government. It’s politics. It’s doing the same things that we’ve always done and expecting different results. Which I believe Einstein said is insanity.”

McCarthy once again called the Justice Department report issued in the waning days of the Obama administration “politically motivated” and off base.

“And the person who led the investigation for the city — [former] Corporation Counsel Steve Patton — was the individual who hid the video” of the police shooting of Laquan McDonald, he said.

“The biggest issue with policing today is the fact that data-driven policing — going where the crime is when the crime is happening and who’s committing the crime — has been determined to be systemic racism by DOJ. At least the last [Obama] administration. I don’t know how we put the genie back in the bottle because everything that policing does from this moment forward is viewed through the prism of racism. … We have an obligation to go to the places and times and intercept the individuals who are committing crime. And nobody wants to face those facts.”

McCarthy all but declared Emanuel’s plan to hire 970 additional police officers a failure before the two-year surge is even completed.

“The problem is not how many cops we have is what they’re doing. What you see in Chicago right now is not a crime strategy. It’s a political strategy and a communications strategy, which is unfortunately succeeding. And it’s taking away from the fact that murder rate is up by about 100 percent from where we got it down to in 2013 and 2014,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy was asked whether he is enjoying his life as a security consultant in the private sector and whether he finds it “more liberating” to be on the outside looking in.

“Absolutely not. I would do that job for free right now because it’s that important,” he said.

“It’s more frustrating to think that I spent 35 years trying to stop people from getting murdered and this is the way it all ends up. I think I know how to do this. I’ve done it for years and years and years and people are losing their lives. I would do anything to have my job back.”