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Garry McCarthy's Wife Says Her Husband 'Has One of Hardest Jobs on Planet'

By Justin Breen | November 10, 2015 6:24am
 Attorney Kristin Barnette McCarthy and Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy have been married since Dec. 31, 2014.
Attorney Kristin Barnette McCarthy and Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy have been married since Dec. 31, 2014.
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Kristin Barnette McCarthy

CHICAGO — Kristin Barnette McCarthy's nearly-one-year marriage to Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy has gone as she expected.

In a phone and email interview with DNAinfo, the personal injury trial attorney for Kralovec, Jambois & Schwartz discussed her relationship with McCarthy and how it's been impacted by Chicago's violence, especially last week's.

Barnette McCarthy, who lives in River North and was married to McCarthy on New Year's Eve, said her husband has "one of the hardest jobs on the planet" and the couple have "no intention of going anywhere."

DNAinfo: How did last week’s shootings in Chicago, especially Tyshawn Lee’s fatal shooting, affect you and your husband? Do conversations about Chicago’s shootings take up a good part of your discussion, or are you able to separate married-work life?

Kristin Barnette McCarthy: Every shooting takes up a lot of Garry’s time, and if we are at the same place at that time, it can impact what I am doing, or what had planned to do together, but I completely understand what the priority is and that things can change from one second to another. There is really no separation of work from our life together because our careers are more of a lifestyle, so it’s something we’re used to and that we signed up for. It can be challenging, but it is the choice we made to do what we do, and neither of us would have it any other way.  

It goes without saying that the shooting of any child is reprehensible, but to think that the shooting of 9-year-old Tyshawn may have been an intentional assassination is beyond comprehension — it defies all notions of morality and civility, even in the context of a gang dispute. It is something that I still cannot wrap my head around. Nothing will bring that innocent fourth-grader back, but the Chicago Police Department will figure out what happened.

DNAinfo: How badly does Supt. McCarthy want to end the consistent shootings in Chicago? In terms of support, how are you there for him? Do you give advice or do you help him vent?

Kristin Barnette McCarthy: The shootings in Chicago are why Garry came here, and why he came here with tried-and-true methods that were successful in other places. There are still components of his plan that need to be put into place, which would transform Chicago, but you can ask him more about that. I will stick to law as my area of specialty.

I think most people would agree that Garry has one of the hardest jobs on the planet. The first thing that he wakes up to every morning is his review of how many people have been shot or killed or otherwise victimized overnight — it is awful, and that is just the start of his day. There are no words to make that OK or neutralize it, so I mostly listen and ask a couple questions about it. I try to sneak cute cards into his bag in the morning that he will find later in the day.

I also try to plan fun things for us to do or places for us to go, whether alone or with family and friends. One thing that comes to mind is from before his heart attack, when I got our friends together for paintball for his birthday (I shot him first! You can confirm this). We also enjoy going to work out together in the morning before work, and cooking when our schedules permit. Staying home is the ultimate luxury.

DNAinfo: When aldermen are asking that your husband be fired or removed from his position, how does that affect you, if at all?

Kristin Barnette McCarthy: That clearly impacts me because no one wants to see their partner, friend or family member go through that. It is also understandable that in such a high-profile job, there are going to be difficulties. However, I also think that people often forget that even though someone is a high-profile public figures, they are still human beings with beating hearts and feelings. He is a tough guy, but much more sensitive than anyone would expect. Ultimately, he is a really good person that went into his profession so that he could protect and help people, which he has demonstrated since the time he became a beat cop, through 9/11 and up to what he does on a daily basis to try to change what has been happening in Chicago for decades. That takes a very special kind of person, and he has kept doing this for three-decades despite the harshness of his most recent critics.

DNAinfo: You’ve been married almost a year now. Is being married to a police chief of a major city what you expected? Anything you didn’t expect?

Kristin Barnette McCarthy: I am not sure that I had any expectations that life would be any different, to be honest. I guess there is a certain loss of anonymity that I did not expect. We cannot go anywhere without being recognized, whether it is Michigan, Munich or Mykonos. To be recognized across the lake or across the world, is not a bad thing, per se, as our encounters are usually for expressions of gratitude, it is just different.

DNAinfo: Tyshawn Lee's mother, Karla, said at her son's visitation that she doesn't expect Chicago's violence to ever change. What are your thoughts on that stance?

Kristin Barnette McCarthy: It's really disheartening. Part of Garry's entire goal has been to relentlessly pursue fixing this problem. I don't think we think that way ever, but it's understandable why certain people think that way. It's important to understand where other people are coming from, too.

DNAinfo: In a previous DNAinfo article, you were quoted as saying “Oh, he’s not going anywhere. I promise you, and you can quote me on that. My family is here and clearly his job is here.” Have you changed your stance on this in any way?

Kristin Barnette McCarthy: Not at all. We both love Chicago, and have no intention of going anywhere.

DNAinfo: Anything else you would like to add?

Kristin Barnette McCarthy: I am not sure that many people realize that his job is something that is literally 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He is on all day, and through the night. Most people do not know how it feels to know that when the phone rings in the middle of the night, it is not a matter of whether something bad happened, it is a matter of how bad it is. ... It's important to realize that Garry is a person, and the mayor [Rahm Emanuel] is a person. Sometimes I don't feel like people consider that before they say things. The mayor works extraordinarily hard; Garry works extremely hard. Both of their goals is to make the city a better place.

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