As the Chicago Police Department struggles to meet Mayor Rahm Emanuel's promise of 1,000 new police on the beat, there's one group of cops they won't be able to tap: the security detail for the City Council's most powerful alderman.
Ed Burke, who has represented the 14th Ward since 1969, is currently assigned an unknown number of police officers -- at least two bodyguards at all times, as the Chicago Sun-Times reports -- along with an unmarked squad car dedicated to his protection. And the city's new superintendent of police says there's nothing he can do about it.
“It’s mandated by a court, so I don’t have the authority to change a court decision,” Garry McCarthy said, according to the Chicago Tribune.
During the campaign, Rahm Emanuel took aim specifically at Burke's security detail. "The City Council has to share in the sacrifice because the residents will be sharing in sacrifice," he said in February, "which means if Ed Burke has six police officers, that just can't continue."
Those comments fueled speculation that a battle was shaping up between the Council's top dog and the incoming mayor. Since that time, though, the mayor and Burke have met and reconciled, and the aldermen have offered little resistance to Emanuel's plans.
Tuesday's remarks by McCarthy came at a press conference where he discussed security for the upcoming Taste of Chicago festival. "I am concerned about getting cops on the street, so I'm looking at everything we could do to get cops on the street; looking at who's driving who, who's working with who," McCarthy said, according to NBC. But Burke's men, he repeated, were off limits.
Burke is the only alderman to receive any taxpayer-funded security. The practice stems from the days of the contentious "Council Wars," when Burke received some threats thanks to his role as the leader of the white opposition to Harold Washington, the city's first black mayor.