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Morning Spin: Sheriff Dart on Laquan McDonald case: Emanuel's micromanager image is a hurdle

Monday, January 18, 2016
Chicago Tribune
by John Byrne

Welcome to Clout Street: Morning Spin, our weekday feature to catch you up with what's going on in government and politics from Chicago to Springfield.

Topspin

It's Monday, Jan. 18, the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart thinks the reputation Mayor Rahm Emanuel has cultivated for being a micromanager who gets things done will make it tougher for the mayor to build the public trust necessary to cool the anger many Chicagoans are directing toward him for the Laquan McDonald shooting by police and its aftermath.

In an interview that will air at 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 24, on WLS-AM's "Connected to Chicago" program, Dart said Emanuel needs to convince residents he's being transparent and honest with them to move past the questions about what he knew about the October 2014 shooting and when he knew it.

"I think a lot of that is because of the fact the public feels this is something he had talked about getting control over, and he had control over all these different aspects of the office, and that ultimately you're the one that's held responsible," Dart said.

Dart said he doesn't know whether Emanuel saw the shooting video before his April 2015 re-election, but that it's a hard argument for the mayor to make.

"I do think one of the things that complicates it is that Rahm has always talked about his ability to work issues and to be able to take crises and things like that," Dart said. "And basically sending the message that he's very much in control. Which, that's fine when you're addressing issues and stuff, but then the other side of that is that then when you're trying to maybe completely, truly, absolutely honestly say, 'I didn't know about something,' then it's hard for people to jump into that. Because it's like, 'Well, you're saying you're in control of this and you micromanage and all this stuff, but now you're saying you didn't know anything about that.' And that's where it gets to be difficult."

"As a general rule, if you're releasing things good or bad, then you build a certain level of trust up," he said. "But when you circle the wagons all the time, when you're not talking and you're very scripted ... When you get that, you create an environment where people are very skeptical, because it's like what isn't controlled then? You control all this, but then you're saying this is not controlled."

Dart also said during the interview with WLS reporter Bill Cameron that he doesn't know whether a code of silence exists in the Chicago Police Department.

Two Cook County sheriff's deputies responded to the scene shortly after Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke fatally shot McDonald, but neither filed a report about the incident. Dart's office said it didn't know the deputies were there until last month when the Tribune brought it to their attention.

Dart said he was "disappointed" that the Independent Police Review Authority did not contact the deputies to talk to them about what happened. The FBI reached out to one of the deputies last summer while looking into the case, but Dart's office told the Tribune that federal investigators did not say why they wanted to talk to the deputy. (John Byrne)



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