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Watch 48 Hours Trip Up Chicago Police Chief Garry McCarthy

While Rahm Emanuel was caught blatantly dodging questions from CBS News in Sunday night's The War in Chicago, Chicago's police chief was caught in a blatant contradiction of his own making.

Here are the key passages, edited for clarity and concision.

"Porche Foster and Hadiya Pendleton never met, but both fell victim to Chicago's merciless street violence.

"Porche was shot last November, when - as with Hadiya two months later - a gunman opened fire on her and other teenagers who were standing around talking.

"The lives of both 15-year-olds have been frozen in time. Neither girl will go to a prom, go to college or get married and have her own children.

"But that is where the similarities end. It is as if Porche and Hadiya died in a city with two very different police departments: one for high-profile cases, the other for almost everyone else.

"One department, as Chicago's Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy described, moved heaven and earth to solve the murder of the teenager who had been at the president's inauguration.

"Arrests were quickly made. But most killers in Chicago never get caught. In fact, that other police department solved only 26 per cent of the homicides committed in 2012.

"What irritates me, my daughter's murderer is still standing on the streets," said Porche's mother, Bonita Foster.

"Six months after Porche Foster's murder, there still have been no arrests.

"I don't see why one gets more attention than the other. I am thinking that had they took the action that they're taking now, with her, with Porshe . . . maybe little Ms. Pendleton would still be here," said Foster.

"Porshe's family says there's has been almost no information from the police, though shortly after she was killed, a detective did stop by.

"He came - shortly after. He was on his way to another shooting. He gave me his card. And - that's the last I've heard from or seen him . . . We have tried to call . . . And we find out he's on vacation. I haven't talked to him [in two months]."

"We've made calls to the officer doing the investigation," said Demetria Rogers, Porche's aunt. "I did just call him last week and I haven't gotten a response - phone call yet."

"Chicago police dispute those accounts. Two months after our interview, a detective did pay another visit, but the family believes more should be done. So they're trying to find Porche's killer themselves, putting up reward posters near the crime scene.

"She was told repeatedly by - when she called the department, 'He's on vacation. No one else can talk to you. You'll have to wait till he gets back,'" a CBS reporter told McCarthy.

"Okay - that shouldn't have happened," he said. "There's a system where if the detective's not there there's supposed to be somebody else picking that up and taking care of it. You've gotta treat every individual, every victim like you're treating one of your own family members or you would want your family members to be treated."

"Can you understand how the parents of some of these other victims felt like the Hadiya Pendleton case got more attention than their case did?"

"I speak to - I speak to the families all the time. So absolutely I understand it. But you know, that's not something that we did. That's something that happened in the press and in the media. That's where that got blown up," said McCarthy.

*

It's true that the Pendleton story blew up in the media. Not every child is equal in the media's eyes - those whose deaths have novelistic narratives get saturation coverage. Those whose lives are more "ordinary" - and typical - are easily dismissed.

But is McCarthy blaming media coverage for determining the deployment of his detectives and street teams? (More likely, it was Rahm screaming at him to solve this fucking case now.)

Of course, we all know this is exactly how it works. Pendleton's death was a heater. The media - and the mayor - wanted a scalp, and McCarthy obliged.

But just think how Bonita Foster and all the other mothers out there feel about the neglected deaths of their children.

*

"I understand the instinct to assign a greater value to victims like Hadiya Pendleton," I wrote in February, "but it's sort of heinous to declare her life more worthy than even the gangbangers who were given up on a long time ago. That doesn't mean her death isn't heartbreaking. It is. It's hard to even think about. But that's because she didn't die in anonymity, like so many. And, of course, because she had just been to the presidential inauguration and was an innocent victim. I get it. But, as John Kass writes . . . even 'guilty' victims have loved ones. Those who don't should be mourned even more, for their lives were even greater wastes."

*

Back to 48 Hours:

"McCarthy says it was good old-fashioned detective work that quickly solved the Pendleton case, not the extra 200 cops on the streets.

"Was that just a coincidence then, the timing that it came right after Hadiya was killed and there was such national attention?" we asked McCarthy.

"Yeah, probably was a coincidence," he said.

Probably. He's not sure. He was out that day.

See, earlier in the show, McCarthy and the mayor took credit for pouring 200 extra cops onto the street to quickly solve the Pendleton case.

"I have called [Hadiya's parents] Cleo and Nate . . . either every night or almost every other night," Rahm Emanuel told reporters.

[The attention] got results. Just two days after Hadiya was gunned down, McCarthy made an announcement:

"We are going to take approximately 200 sworn officers and reassign them from administrative assignments to field duties," he told reporters.

Just a coincidence.

"The law enforcement surge immediately flooded Chicago's streets and neighborhoods with the power and presence of hundreds of uniformed cops.

"Before a flame becomes a fire, to put it out," Emanuel told reporters, "and, uh, have the resources to do that."

And then, just two weeks after Hadiya Pendleton's death, 18-year-old Michael Ward and 20-year-old Kenneth Williams, ID'd by police as Gangster Disciples, were arrested and charged with first-degree murder.

*

Now, when questioned by 48 Hours, McCarthy sees how that sort of preferential treatment is problematic. Think about how other parents feel.

-

NOTE: In a sense, Homicide Watch is intended in part to at least help combat this phenomenon. It's motto is "Mark every death. Remember every victim. Follow every case."

This has not been the approach of the traditional media, however, nor the police, apparently.

*

The Sun-Times is now attempting its own version of Homicide Watch, which is a fantastic move in theory, though the execution over the long term could be problematic without the necessary commitment of resources. So we'll see, but maybe it's a step in the right direction.

-

ALSO: In 1993, the Tribune documented the murder of every child 15 years of age and under on its front page in an ambitious and resource-intensive series called "Killing Our Children." But, the paper learned, documenting death wasn't enough; in the following year it embarked on a series called "Saving Our Children" that examined causes of life-ending violence and possible solutions. That was 20 years ago, when twice as many Chicagoans were murdered every year than they are now. Perhaps that series should be revisited to see what's worked and what hasn't. And to remember that, for one year at least, every murdered child in the city was front-page news.

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See also: Watch Rahm Emanuel Lie To 48 Hours.

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on May 21, 2013


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