New Top Cop in Public Safety ‘Hot Seat'

Acting Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy was "in the hot seat" Monday as several aldermen, including Ed Burke, peppered him with questions about his plans for the city during a meeting of the Public Safety Committee, which ultimately approved him.

One of the first topics: last week's North Avenue Beach's closure.

McCarthy told aldermen that he stands behind the decision to close the beach on one of  the city's first hottest days of the year.

He said the closure was health-related and not connected to a gang problem, though he admits "I can't say" whether gang members were at the beach at the time.

Monday's hearing drew a crowd even from aldermen who aren't on the committee, including Burke, Richard Mell (33rd) and Bob Fioretti (2nd). "You're in the hot seat," Chairman James Balcer (11th Ward) told McCarthy, who launched into his campaign message.

"Anybody can manage," McCarthy said. "Leaders show people how to do it. ... I'm going to be out in front, not pushing from behind." 

McCarthy is due to be confirmed Wednesday by the Chicago City Council. He promises to implement Compstat, the program he started in Newark, "to be sure [police] commanders are doing what they're supposed to be doing." 

He told aldermen he hopes "to create a culture of respect." 

Burke asked him about being on New York City's force during 9/11. McCarthy said he brought Rudy Giuliani to the scene.

"I expected terrorists to come out of the subways with AK-47s," he said. The most poignant event? Seeing planes overhead and thinking it was another attack, then realizing they were F16s protecting the city.

"While relieved, I was crestfallen," he said.

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