NEWARK – Staring at the coming summer with the dread of a crime-riddled hot spell in his rear view, Mayor Cory Booker today formally accepted the resignation of Police Director Garry McCarthy and appointed in-house Deputy Chief Samuel DeMaio as acting director.
“My immediate concern is not our longterm search for a full-time director,” said Booker. “It’s June, July and August.
“One thing I want is to drive down the rate of crime to make this summer one we can be proud of,” the mayor added, standing between McCarthy and DeMaio at PD headquarters in downtown Newark.
McCarthy is on his way to Chicago to head up police ops. The fact that just three city council members – Anibal Ramos, Augusto Amador, and Darrin Sharif – attended this press advisory indicated the tough guy’s troubled tenure here, where he earned points for being a no-nonsense cop but also stirred controversy with his crime-fighting tactics.
“We have a serious crime problem still,” Booker admitted. “We as a community must press forward as we approach the summer months. We have something to prove this summer. Last summer was the worst summer in terms of violent crime in two decades.”
A former precinct commander who grew up in Brick City and waited gleefully for his father to ride his police motorcycle home from work, DeMaio appeared excited to take the interim job.
“All I ever wanted was to be a Newark cop,” said the number two guy turned acting number one, whose father was a cop.
“I have a tremendous love and respect for all the men and women who work here,” he added.
He playfully gonged his predecessor at one point.
“I’ve learned a lot from Garry McCarthy – New York isn’t always the best way,” he cracked, referring to McCarthy’s police background.
The acting director promised implementation of an anti-crime program for the coming warm months in which the community will positively participate.
“There is one principal measure I will be looking at in September is how will this man perform,” said Booker, when NBC’s Brian Thompson asked the mayor if DeMaio has the inside track for the full-time position.
“If he pulls off a success that’s going to say a lot about the future,” the mayor added.
Pummeled by politics during his time here as he fought the outsider tag, McCarthy said, “It’s been a learning experience. I certainly learned a lot here. I had a plan, I had a vision. I’m not very good at politics.”
“Chicago politics are really easy,” joked the mayor.
With the absence of key city leaders speaking volumes about fracture, Booker made repeated appeals to unity.
“When we come together, there’s nothing we can’t do,” he said. “We’ve got most people pushing in the same direction.”
The mayor specifically mentioned the homegrown quality of DeMaio as a reason why Newarkers should coalesce. At least one longtime Booker antagonist voiced her early support for the new acting director.
“I’m proud Sam DeMaio is taking the job – I know him as a Newark community actiist with the people in all wards,” said Ten Four Evans.