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Chicago's New Top Cop: 'I Understand Why People Are Upset'

(CBS) – The man who has been named interim Chicago police superintendent is making the rounds, following the dismissal of Garry McCarthy.

CBS 2's Suzanne Le Mignot sat down with John Escalante.

He talked about his first few days on the job in a new, unexpected role and watching the video of the shooting death of Laquan McDonald. The black teen's October 2014 shooting death at the hands of a white officer has triggered controversy and protests.

"I think any video where you, where you see death, where you see someone die, is hard to watch," Escalante says. "Obviously, in this case, just because his death occurred at the hands of a Chicago police officer from a shooting, (it's) probably a little harder for me personally."

He adds: "We have very good men and women in the Chicago Police Department, and we hold them accountable for their actions, just as the superintendent was held accountable for the department as a whole.  As difficult as it is to watch, I understand why people are upset by it. Perfectly understandable why there has been the uproar and the protest."

Escalante says the Chicago Police Department is also ready to handle more protests when the video of the police-involved, fatal shooting of Ronald Johnson is made public, possibly as early as this Monday.

He has seen the tape and describes it this way: "Different set of circumstances in the type of call that it was. It was actually a man-with-a-gun call, there was a foot pursuit."

With the recent police shootings captured on video, Escalante says if he is chosen as the next superintendent his first task would be to renew the public's faith in the department.

"We can't move forward as a department, no matter what improvements we make internally, if we don't reach out to the community and start either repairing some of those bridges that have been damaged over the last few weeks, or in some cases and in some communities, actually building bridges that never existed," Escalante says.




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