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by Peter Moskos

June 27, 2011

Three Cheers for Chicago Police Supt. McCarthy

Here's the story with the video.

Here's the story about the inevitable backlash to anybody who talks about the harms that guns cause to people in our cities. They tend to be ad hominem.

Kudos for not being afraid to talk about race. Yes folks, racism used to not only be legal, but mandatory. And yes folks, that still matters. Even today. Even with a black president. Even if you're sick of hearing about it. And no folks, bringing this up does not excuse crime. Nor does it mean you're a racist.

Shall we continue?

From the Sun Times:
McCarthy went on to say that in the debate about gun control, there has to be “a recognition of who’s paying the price for gun manufacturers being rich and living in gated communities.”

McCarthy told parishioners an anecdote about a brutal night of killings in Newark, N.J., where he was previously head of the police department. McCarthy said that after he got home that night, he turn on the TV to relax, and tuned in to Sarah Palin’s Alaska.

“She was caribou-hunting and talking about the right to bear arms,” McCarthy said. “Why wasn’t she at the crime scene with me?”
P.S. I've met McCarthy at John Jay College. I like McCarthy... But, chief, you know it's wrong to be stepping on casings at a crime scene. You shouldn't be there messing up the crime scene in the first place! (But maybe he was speaking figuratively.)


Dana King said...

Based on what was in the Sun-Times, McCarthy's remarks may not have been phrased as elegantly as they could have been, but his point is accurate, and has been made before: if we had the same number of homicides among white suburbanites, the Second Amendment might have been amended already.

PCM said...

Politically, I don't think he cared about being elegant. I think his goal, and he did it well, was trying to assure people in the black community that he understands the problems they face. It's something all police need to do, especially when it's combined with necessarily aggressive policing in these same neighborhoods.

Anonymous said...

I'm all for gun control, but don't forget that these guns are available for everyone to purchase/steal, yet they wind up being used in lower income black and Hispanic areas. A church pulpit could be better used to preach about kids resolving disputes without using violence, but that wouldn't get Garry or Rahm many votes in Chicago would it?


David said...

I'm sorry Peter, I strongly disagree with you on this. The Chief is carrying water for administrations in a City and State that are soon to be the last state in the Union to deny its citizens the right to bear arms. And, most of those states have far lower crime rates. Guns don't cause crime in Chicago and getting illegal guns off the streets won't stop crime, kind of like prohibition of drugs doesn't stop crime.

Go over to the Second City Cop blog (may favorite police blog after this one of course) and read what the "real po-lice" of Chitown think of the Chief. Also read about some of the Chief's antics when he was in NYPD.

PCM said...

Getting people to stop carrying around illegal guns does lower crime. And getting people to stop carrying illegal guns requires aggressive policing in high-crime areas. And aggressive policing in high-crime areas requires a chief to have good relations with the non-criminals in that area.

Playing politics and speaking in black churches is exactly what a new police chief should be doing.

It is the chief's job to carry water for the administration. He works for the administration! And that's that's what good employees do. (see, as an example of why you don't want a chief completely separated from politics, my post on the death of Daryl Gates.)

As to the rank and file not liking him? That's almost inevitable when you bring in an outsider. As somebody who has been following McCarthy long before Chicagoans ever heard his name, I stand by my belief that he's a good man for the job.

Comparing gun and drug prohibition is good, but only up to a point. True, we'll never have a gun-free America and more than a drug-free America. But we can do things to make it harder for criminals to get guns and we can do things to get criminals more afraid to carry them. Such de-escalation saves lives.

PCM said...

Tell me something, David, you really think that if the NRA got its way on even more than they already do, that fewer people would be shot in Chicago?

Because I do not.

I think Second City Cop is fine blog (I should read it more than I do). I also think that any urban cop who encourages donations to the NRA is a little loopy. And is putting political ideological above personal safety.

David said...


Thank you very much for the thoughtfull response.

I do believe that if the State of Illinois and City of Chicago loosened their restrictions on the ability of law abiding citizens to acquire firearms for personal defense (both long and hand) and instituted a procedure for shall issue concealed carry (again by law abiding citizens with requisite training in the law of self defense (e.g., Mossad Ayoob's "In The Gravest Extreme") and live fire requirements) there will be fewer crimes committed against persons in Chigago.

Fewer people getting shot, probably not, but probably fewer sheep at the cost of a few wolves.

David said...

I left out of the previous post that I have no argument with severe penalties for illegally carrying/possessing firearms, whether used in the commission of a crime or not.

Also understand that Chief has to reflect his administration's view; but he's out of step with his rank and file and the majority of his peers in Illinois on the issue.

PCM said...

Thanks for your thoughtful comment!

How many sheep are getting shot? Certainly some (and some very recently in Chicago). But the problem is so much more wolves shooting wolves (and sometimes accidentally hitting sheep--and I don't think anybody, not even the NRA--thinks 4-year-olds should have guns).

There is some common ground here. Focus on illegal guns and the criminals shooting those guns! I think that's a problem with some gun control people... they waste time and political capital trying to restrict guns from people who are causing crime. But the NRA certainly makes it easier for criminals to get guns.

What if he mandated "shall carry" (which I do not support) on the condition that we register and keep track of those gun and their owners? The NRA is against that one...

And here's where I get back to the Chief... the NRA doesn't care or think about gun violence. Their constituency is not people in the city. Different rules need to apply in different places. The NRA is against that one, too.