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Preckwinkle, Garcia op-ed: Why Anita Alvarez should resign

Wednesday, December 02, 2015
Chicago Tribune

Public order can be maintained while justice is served, and every community can be safe. Our experienced and dedicated police officers and staff of the Cook County state's attorney merit stronger leadership.

Garry McCarthy has resigned as police superintendent. Based on State's Attorney Anita Alvarez's tactics and record, the time has come for her to do the same.

We have heard every argument from the state's attorney to justify shortcuts, strong-arm tactics and a blatant disregard for fairness. We deserve better.

We have seen the video of Laquan McDonald's execution. It clearly showed this teenager, a former ward of the state, being shot repeatedly by a rogue police officer who had compiled a long record of complaints. Like McCarthy, Alvarez sat on this case and the evidence for 13 months. She was pushed to act only because of Cook County Circuit Judge Franklin Valderrama's decision forcing the city to release the video.

Alvarez often talks about standing up for the victims of crime, but in this case the real victim was McDonald. In this case, she failed miserably.

We continue to support Chicago's police officers, who struggle every day to do a difficult job well. We hope they will now get leadership they deserve, leadership that understands the need to work with our residents to build trust and confidence — especially in communities of color. We also support our assistant state's attorneys. They work hard every day, dealing with heart-wrenching cases as they try to build safer communities. They should not be undermined by their own leadership.

We have seen that our public safety system works better when all stakeholders collaborate. The evidence can be seen in our efforts to reduce the jail population, which we have lowered by about 20 percent by being smarter about detention. Our focus on measurable risk is laying the groundwork for a further reduction in the use of detention for people who are awaiting trial.

The Laquan McDonald tragedy and Garry McCarthy's resignation have presented an opportunity to make long-needed systemic and structural changes in the composition and culture of the Chicago Police Department. We fear that another year of Anita Alvarez as state's attorney would be nothing more than a hindrance in those efforts.

We will continue our work to reform the criminal justice system in Cook County. We have made changes we are proud of even as we are determined to do far more. Imagine what progress we could make with a cooperative and collaborative approach from the state's attorney.

McCarthy has resigned. The time has come for Alvarez to do the same.

Toni Preckwinkle is president of the Cook County Board. Jesus "Chuy" Garcia is a Cook County commissioner and former candidate for mayor of Chicago.



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