CHICAGO (AP) — Garry McCarthy is a son of a police officer, and followed in his father's footsteps. He did not, however, mirror the path of his predecessors by rising through the ranks of the Chicago Police Department to assume the superintendent position.
He made his own way, from patrolman to an executive with New York City's police force to becoming Newark, New Jersey's chief to Chicago's top office in May 2011 — a position from which he was dismissed Tuesday.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he asked McCarthy, 56, for his resignation amid growing suspicion in the city that McCarthy fought to keep the public from seeing a video of a white officer shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was black, 16 times because he was more interested in protecting his officers than city residents.
The mayor, who brought McCarthy in after he first won election, said he was left with "the undeniable fact that the public trust in the leadership in the department has been shaken and eroded."
But officers under McCarthy's command did not view him with the same suspicion as his immediate predecessor, Jody Weis, who came to Chicago after a career with the FBI.
It was obvious to anyone who met McCarthy that he loved being an officer, loved spending his days with his law enforcement colleagues and often made sure to offer his support for the officers who worked for him. That was clear in 2012, when McCarthy could be seen cheering his officers on as they fought NATO protesters just a few feet away.
When McCarthy repeatedly talked about the thousands of illegal guns his officers had taken off the street, it was often accompanied with a reminder that any of those guns could have been used to kill one of his officers.
McCarthy was confronted with a spate of violent crimes early on, with his first full year on the job ending with more than 500 homicides, more than any city in the nation. But over the next two years, the number of homicides and other violent crimes dropped significantly and Emanuel praised McCarthy for modernizing Chicago's police force, getting illegal guns off the streets and pushing a community policing strategy that the mayor said had reduced overall crime rates to a record low.
Last month, McCarthy fired an officer who shot and killed a woman in 2012. But long before that, he said Officer Dante Servin should never have been charged with a crime. And after a judge threw out those charges on a technicality, McCarthy again stood up for his force, suggesting that prosecutors had created a "safety hazard" for those who might hesitate to act and thus put their own lives in danger.
But he was silent on Tuesday after Emanuel's announcement, with his spokesman saying he was unavailable for comment
On Tuesday, Emanuel suggested that McCarthy went from being a key player in the story of Chicago law enforcement to being the story itself. It cost him his job, one chief of detectives John Escalante will take over in the interim.
"At this point and at this juncture in the city... he has become an issue rather than dealing with the issue," the mayor said of McCarthy. "And a distraction."