Andy Shaw: Top cop compounds big wrong
Published Nov. 2, 2015
By ANDY SHAW
Better Government Association
Anyone who drives probably remembers an experience like this: You’re cut off by another car, but you’re the one who gets the finger, like you did something wrong.
Why do we get the feeling that’s what Chicago police Supt. Garry McCarthy is doing, figuratively, with his recent appointment of Constantine “Dean” Andrews as the new chief of detectives?
With this dubious choice — presumably green-lighted by City Hall — McCarthy is barreling along and flipping off those in the right of way.
How else can we interpret a promotion that’s an affront to anyone who’s followed the David Koschman saga and cares about integrity in the police department?
Koschman, you might recall, died in 2004 following an alcohol-fueled encounter with Richard “R.J.” Vanecko, then-Mayor Richard M. Daley’s nephew.
Vanecko punched Koschman, who fell, hit his head and later died.
There was strong evidence, uncovered by Chicago Sun-Times reporters in recent years, that the initial investigation was rigged to keep Vanecko from facing criminal charges.
Koschman’s mother ended up requesting a special prosecutor to take a fresh look at her son’s death and explore whether there was a concerted effort by police and prosecutors to shield Vanecko from justice.
The Better Government Association strongly supported Mrs. Koschman, arguing in a companion court brief for the appointment of an outsider to reinvestigate the case.
We felt that CPD brass and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, who was a top official in the prosecutor’s office at the time of Koschman’s death, couldn’t be trusted to get it right.
In a seismic ruling, Judge Michael Toomin agreed to appoint a prominent private attorney, former federal prosecutor Dan Webb, to reinvestigate the case.
Webb’s probe ultimately resulted in the conviction of Vanecko for manslaughter, but more relevant today is Webb’s conclusion that a number of Chicago cops, including recently promoted Andrews, could have been charged with official misconduct or obstruction of justice for their handling of the reinvestigation.
Andrews was overseeing a 2011 review that, in Webb’s report, included an alleged attempt to doctor paperwork to make it look like Koschman was the aggressor the night of the fatal encounter.
Webb chose not to charge the officers, but the city’s inspector general is still looking at the police department’s handling of the Koschman probe, and what we know is disturbing enough to question Andrews’ promotion and ask whether some of the cops should have been taken off the street pending the IG’s findings.
If the IG finds Andrews culpable, he could be fired, so it defies logic that McCarthy promoted a guy in such a tenuous position.
The chief of detectives should epitomize integrity because he’s supervising investigators trying to solve homicides and other violent crimes. It’s important, super-sensitive work.
McCarthy has come under fire lately from black aldermen who blame him for escalating gun violence, failed crime-fighting strategies and inaccessibility.
And we’ve raised questions about his friendship with Richard Simon, a businessman who’s had ties to reputed organized crime figures and was investigated in an old, still-unsolved missing persons case involving a female companion of a mob associate.
The Andrews appointment is just the latest question about McCarthy’s judgment.
The top cop must have known this promotion would raise questions, and he may not care, but Mayor Rahm Emanuel should.
Why do we get the feeling they’re both weaving through traffic and sending us a vulgar message?
Andy Shaw is president and chief executive officer of the Better Government Association.