CHICAGO (CBS) – Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy is firing back at those who imply his officers are trigger-happy.
It’s only July, but the number of deadly police shootings have already out-paced all of last year. On Monday night, another police-involved shooting occurred.
McCarthy, in an exclusive interview with CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine, says police officers are facing increasing dangers on the street. Just last week, two Chicago police officers were shot and wounded while trying to arrest a drug suspect.
“Last year, there was a 40 percent increase in officers being shot nationwide. This year, it’s up from last year,” McCarthy says.
Newly placed stars on the wall of Chicago Police headquarters bear silent witness to the toll taken here. Six Chicago police officers were killed in the line of duty last year alone.
Tio Hardiman of Operation CeaseFire has his own theory about why the confrontations are escalating.
“A lot of these guys feel they got nothing to lose, so they’re willing to go up against the police or anybody,” he says.
McCarthy counters: “Somebody points a gun at you, you have to defend yourself.”
Chicago police officers have used deadly force 40 times already this year, compared to 46 times all of last year. Sixteen suspects have been shot and killed, compared to 13 last year.
McCarthy says he doesn’t want officers to hesitate at the cost of their own lives. He says his officers have used their weapons in self-defense 18 times in his two months on the job. In only one case is an officer being investigated for misusing deadly force.
“What we can do is work on police training to ensure that we’re right when these things occur,” McCarthy says.
McCarthy says he personally reviews every police shooting and rejects any suggestion that some Chicago police officers believe they have a license to kill to reduce crime.
McCarthy says the number of police shootings will drop only when suspects stop confronting officers with weapons of their own.