Emanuel says he'll resolve Burke security in 'due time'

June 29, 2011 4:30:12 PM PDT
Mayor Rahm Emanuel is reacting to word he has the power to remove bodyguards assigned to Alderman Ed Burke.

The mayor had said the decision was up to the police superintendent. But ABC 7 revealed Tuesday that a court order does, in fact, allow the mayor to make the final decision.

Even though he was the one who raised the issue during the campaign four and a half months ago, Mayor Emanuel says he has more important things to do now than to make a decision about Alderman Burke's bodyguards.

The mayor was trying to stay on message at a South Side Walgreens Wednesday morning as he focused on the food desert issue and job creation. When asked again what he would do regarding Alderman Burke's bodyguard detail, the mayor's initial response sounded familiar.

"I've asked Superintendent McCarthy to look into this, tell me other ways that we can achieve what we need to do," he said.

But 22-year-old court documents obtained by ABC 7 suggested that Burke's four taxpayer-supported police bodyguards -- a detail originally assigned to the City Council finance committee chairman 28 years ago -- was "subject to further directive of the mayor of the City of Chicago," not the police superintendent or even the courts.

"I'll get it, and I'll get it resolved, and I'll do it in due time and expeditiously. As you know, I'm not a very patient person," Emanuel told ABC7's Charles Thomas. "It's just that I'm not going to be...possessed by the four officers."

During the campaign, as Emanuel talked about the police manpower shortage, he expressed concern about one alderman commanding the attention of so many cops.

"Ed Burke has six police officers. That just can't continue," Emanuel at a debate.

Now, Emanuel says Burke's detail includes only four officers. Alderman Michelle Harris says re-assigning them would not make that much of a difference.

"In the big scale of things, four bodies isn't going to really make the Kool-Aid any sweeter," said Ald. Michelle Harris, 8th Ward.

But the newly-elected Alderman Roderick Sawyer of the 6th Ward thinks his colleagues tiptoe around the powerful Burke.

"The aura of him. It's not him personally but just the position of finance chair, and I believe that's why people kind of tiptoe around that," said Sawyer.

Mayor Emanuel denied the suggestion that since the election, he had made some kind of deal with Alderman Burke.

"My deal is with the people of the City of Chicago and making sure our communities are safe," said Emanuel.

The mayor said that since his inauguration he has re-deployed 650 Chicago police officers into high-crime neighborhoods.

For the time being, the Burke bodyguard detail, formed in the 1980s, remains intact. Disbanding it is just not that high on the new mayor's 'to do' list.


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