Despite complaints against NYPD cop Christopher McCormack by over a dozen Black and Latino men for “humiliating, inappropriate and invasive” strip searches conducted by either him or by other officers on his orders, he kept rising up the ranks in the department.
Today, McCormack, who has been with the department for over 3 decades and is known as “Red Rage” for his ginger hair and aggressive tactics, is now an assistant chief – one of the highest ranking positions to hold in the NYPD.
McCormack’s career, according to ProPublica, has never been short of accusations and controversies. Among his fellow colleagues, he has the most credible misconduct allegations on file. His allegedly aggressive policing led to several lawsuits with the city having to eventually settle. Other complaints against him were also referred to the Civilian Complaint Review Board to look into for possible misconduct. Many of the allegations were not publicly known.
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Sharing their experiences with the investigative platform, some Black and Latino men who claim they fell victim to McCormack’s searches, alleged he dropped their pants in public, exposing their private parts. Others said he searched for drugs around or inside their anal cavities with his fingers or instructed officers under his command to do so.
Another man, Unique Kennedy, said when McCormack was searching for contraband in his underwear, “it felt like someone getting sexually abused, assaulted.” The numerous allegations against McCormack were, however, never a stumbling block in his career as superiors kept promoting him.
“In any normally functioning system, this would be considered a huge red flag and something would have to be done about it,” Alex Vitale, an NYPD critic told ProPublica. “If there is a pattern of even unsubstantiated complaints, this should be considered a warning sign.”
ProPublica also points McCormack’s continuous rise despite the controversies surrounding him to his close relationships with his superiors, including former NYPD commissioner and long-time friend, James O’Neill. Current and former high-ranking NYPD officers who also spoke with the publication said they believe a huge contributory factor to McCormack’s promotions was because of his relationship with O’Neill. McCormack and O’Neill previously worked together.
“Chris is a hard worker, but he has been accused of many things in his career,” an NYPD precinct commander who was not authorized to speak publicly on the allegations against McCormack, said. “If he wasn’t good friends with O’Neill,” he said, “they would have held him back.”