Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Thursday there's no way Chicago police officers would spy on Muslims or conduct surveillance operations in their communities like those carried out by New York officers in that city and neighboring New Jersey.
"We don't do that in Chicago and we're not going to do that," Emanuel said in his first public comments about the operations since The Associated Press reported the NYPD in 2007 eavesdropped on Muslims in Newark, N.J., and put them under surveillance.
Emanuel also said he has "a thousand percent" confidence in the leadership of current Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, who was the Newark police chief at the time.
Emanuel said he talks with McCarthy every day and that the two did discuss the AP's story on Thursday morning. But Emanuel, whose office said McCarthy did not discuss the Newark operation with the mayor before he was hired, suggested Thursday's talk was focused on keeping McCarthy focused on running Chicago's department.
"He knows the policies here and he abides by those policies," Emanuel said. "What happened in Newark and New York years ago is something else. What we do here in Chicago is different."
McCarthy told the AP on Wednesday that the NYPD notified him as a courtesy that it was sending plainclothes officers into Newark but that Newark police officers did not participate in the operation. McCarthy's spokesman, Melissa Stratton, said the superintendent was not available for comment Thursday.
One Chicago-area Muslim leader said the Muslim community wants McCarthy to speak about the issue, both to assure Muslims that such an operation has not been implemented in Chicago and that the superintendent does not condone such activities.
"We are sending him a letter today to request clarification on his position," said Ahmed Rehab, who heads the Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Rehab also said he's been encouraged by McCarthy's stance since he came to Chicago.
"He's supportive of our civil rights work," Rehab said, noting McCarthy had previously sent him a letter praising Rehab's group.