Former top cop: Officers feeling under attack led to rise in Chicago crime
Former police superintendent Garry McCarthy spoke about the city's struggles in a '60 Minutes' interview
By Tony Briscoe
CHICAGO — Chicago's struggles with gun violence once again made national news on Sunday night as a CBS "60 Minutes" segment spotlighted the city's deadliest year in two decades.
On Sunday evening, "60 Minutes" aired a segment titled "Crisis in Chicago," in which correspondent Bill Whitaker delves into the factors that have been driving Chicago's surging number of shootings. Data kept by the Chicago Tribune tallied at least 781 homicides for the year. The Chicago Police Department recorded 762 homicides, but did not include slayings on area expressways, police-involved shootings, other homicides in which a person was killed in self-defense or death investigations.
For the six days that the television crew visited Chicago, there were 55 shooting victims; 16 died from their wounds.
In the 14-minute segment, Whitaker talked to former police superintendent Garry McCarthy about his firing in the wake of the Laquan McDonald shooting video's release.
"I don't think it helped the situation," McCarthy said when asked if he was made to be a scapegoat. "And I think it's a contributory factor to where we are today in Chicago. And if you want to call it scapegoat, that's fine."
McCarthy said that a part of Chicago's crime issue is that police officers feel "under attack."
"That's how they feel in this environment, and they're not going to put themselves and their families in jeopardy," he told Whitaker.
McCarthy's successor, superintendent Eddie Johnson, tried to dispel the notion that police officers may be taking a more lax stance on crime because of recent scrutiny on policing practices. Instead, he offered that the drop in police stops was due to more stringent standards brought on by pressure from the American Civil Liberties Union.
"You know I still go out in the field and I talk to officers, too. And they take offense to people referring to them as backing down or not doing their job," he said.
In a behind-the-scenes segment posted online, CBS News producer Guy Campanile, who accompanied Whitaker on the assignment, said he declined when police asked him to wear a bulletproof vest while filming at night on Chicago's South Side.
"It bothered me that I had to wear body armor in an American city," he said. "That really bothered me. We're not talking about a Third World country. We're not talking about some war zone in the Middle East. We're talking about Chicago, Illinois."
Campanile said that while filming an interview between Whitaker and Flora White, whose son was killed while greeting a friend on gang turf, drug dealers were conducting illegal transactions on the street corner right in front of the cameramen.
"What struck us, as Bill and Ms. White were talking about what happened there, was just how brazen the drug dealers were," he said. " I mean, we're there with a camera with a '60 Minutes' correspondent doing an interview, and not more than 5 yards away, cars are pulling up and guys on the corner are slinging dope right in front of us. It may be unfair to say this, but we never saw a police car come by."