Overall crime in Chicago fell 15 percent last year largely because of better policing, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy suggested yesterday to the the National Forum on Criminal Justice, holding its annual meeting in his city. McCarthy didn’t take direct credit for the crime drop but mentioned it in the context of describing how he has overhauled the city’s police department since arriving from Newark two years ago. McCarthy didn’t mention the city’s 16 percent increase in homicide last year, reaching 506, highest of any American city.
To hear McCarthy tell it, when he arrived, Chicago was not really practicing the brand of community policing for which the city was known. McCarthy described how he dismantled city-wide police squads that swooped in and out of neighborhoods and established “geographic accountability for the entire city.” Drawing on his experience as a New York City commander using the CompStat systeem, McCarthy created a “meritocracy” to give more authority to police commanders. His biggest challenge, he said, is to institutionalize his personnel and structural changes. “We’ve set it up for the future,” he said. The forum concludes today.