It’s been almost completely lost in the wake of the biggest news story in years, but Chicago has a new police superintendent: Garry McCarthy, who’s coming here from Newark.
- He’s a lifer. McCarthy started as a cop when he was 22 years old, and is the son of a detective. Bringing in outsiders is inevitably tense for the Chicago Police Department, but McCarthy’s long experience will likely help.
- He’s a protege of William Bratton:
- He’s got a background in crime statistics. Before he moved to Newark, McCarthy oversaw NYC’s famed Compstat program.
- He put up good numbers in Newark. “During [Cory] Booker’s term, homicides have declined 28 percent, shootings are down 46 percent, and crime overall is down 21 percent. March  was Newark’s first month without a murder since 1966. Booker has emulated the approach pioneered by New York City in the 1990s, bringing over a New York City police veteran, Garry McCarthy, to run the police department, and instituting New York’s CompStat computer system for tracking crime and holding precinct commanders accountable.”
- He likes cameras. So don’t expect the Daley-led initiative to lose any momentum. During McCarthy’s tenure, Newark made heavy use of them—perhaps even more so than Chicago:
- He brings an emphasis on narcotics trafficking. In Newark, McCarthy instituted a 45-person narcotics unit, the city’s first; here’s a good, long look at the difficulties he faced in shutting down a Newark drug house.
- He’s coming from one set of cutbacks to another. In Chicago, CPD manpower has been an ongoing issue of controversy; McCarthy’s force was cut 16 percent in January.
- He’s had problem with the unions. He received a vote of no-confidence (just like Jean-Claude Brizard) from Newark’s Superior Officers Association in late 2010. It came during a very public, very tense fight over layoffs, and a push by the ACLU for federal oversight of the Newark police department.
Faced with a community worried about crime, they can hire a chief who frets that there are limits to what he or she can accomplish. Or they can go with someone inculcated in an attitude that holds, as former NYPD deputy commissioner of operations Garry McCarthy puts it, “Every crime can be prevented. Is it a reasonable expectation? No. But if you shoot that high, you’ll do pretty well.”
That is one reason McCarthy is now police director in Newark, New Jersey, hired earlier this year by Mayor Cory Booker to bring down that city’s high crime rate. The philosophies of policing that McCarthy has been using these past 10 years were, he says, “nurtured in [the Bratton] era.”
Major cities such as London, New York, and Chicago have rolled out larger video surveillance networks. But technology experts say Newark, New Jersey’s largest city, is the first metropolis to combine an array of technologies on a large scale. “I haven’t seen a city with this mix of technology all in one place,” says Kevin Kilgore, president of Let’s Think Wireless, a New York company that has built wireless networks for several hundred cities, including Newark.
Here’s McCarthy from the Sundance documentary series Brick City:
Photograph: The Sundance Channel