Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel's choice to lead Chicago police promised Monday to have "cops' backs" and to earn the right to wear the city's police uniform, both issues that sparked criticism for his predecessor.
Garry McCarthy, the police director in Newark, N.J., who rose through the ranks of New York City's police department, was introduced during news conference as Emanuel's nominee to be police superintendent in the country's third largest city.
"He knows how to run a large police force and with summer right around the corner, a time when incidents of crime increase significantly, Chicago's police department needs a leader with Garry's depth of experience and a track record for delivering results," Emanuel said, praising McCarthy's work reducing murder rates in Newark.
McCarthy would replace former FBI agent Jody Weis, who was unpopular with many rank-and-file officers who claimed Weis didn't stand behind them. They also criticized him for wearing a police uniform to official functions because he didn't come up through the ranks.
McCarthy said he wouldn't wear a Chicago police uniform until after he was sworn in to a civilian post in the department and then certified to be a police officer in Illinois.
"At that point I will wear the uniform but not before it, because I've got to tell you, having walked in their shoes, having been a cop, having worked hard ... I have to earn the right to do that," he said.
McCarthy also promised to take steps to improve morale, including creating more transparency and a meritocracy in the department to ensure rewards are based on an officers' work, not their affiliations. Officers need to know they will be treated fairly, he said.
"As long as you're working up to your ability, as long as you're working hard and you're doing the right thing, I will have the cops' backs," McCarthy said.
In New York, McCarthy rose from patrolman to an executive position in the police department and was involved in its rescue and recovery efforts after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks before taking the job in New Jersey.
McCarthy said he knows he needs to hit the ground running in Chicago.
He said he must learn more about gangs in Chicago, saying the problem is different than in New York, where they don't have the level of structured hierarchical gangs like there is in Chicago. He also said he would focus on reducing murder and other violence, and will reach out to people in the department and in the community to find out what needs to be done and how to do it.
"We're going to reduce the fear of crime in this city at the same time," McCarthy said.
Emanuel said McCarthy will be paid less than Weis but he didn't give a specific salary.
Emanuel picked McCarthy over two other candidates also put forth by the Chicago Police Board — Debra Kirby, a deputy superintendent in the department's Bureau of Professional Standards, and Eugene Williams, a 30-year department veteran.
McCarthy's hiring must still be approved by the Chicago City Council.