As Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson prepares to retire at the end of the year, Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s pick to replace him on an interim basis – former Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck – is already drawing fire.
Activists, including those involved in the Black Lives Matter movement, have said that Beck’s record in Los Angeles – particularly the large number of officer-involved shootings on his watch – does not bode well for Chicago.
Lightfoot, who is not concerned by that criticism, said Saturday that people should look at “the totality of a person’s work.”
But Beck has already made clear that he’s not interested in the job permanently, and Lightfoot is not tasked with finding Johnson’s long-term replacement. That job falls to the Chicago Police Board.
Ghian Foreman, president of the board, said the search is just beginning but the board is hoping to get the application process up and running “within the next couple of weeks.”
This will be his third hunt for a police chief since joining the board.
“There will probably be 35-45 days for applicants to respond. Then the police board will review those applications. We’ll interview a certain number of applicants and we will ultimately narrow it down to three,” Foreman said. “We will present those names to the mayor and the mayor will choose from one of the three.”
If the mayor doesn’t like any of the three candidates then the process essentially starts over.
“We could choose from the next three or we could open the search back up again,” Foreman said.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel ignored the board’s recommendations – a move deemed controversial – and instead opted to appoint Eddie Johnson to the job in 2016. At that time, Lightfoot was president of the board.
Foreman said he aims to get input from all stakeholders in the community as to what they’re looking for in the next police chief. The search process itself is likely to take several months.
And although he has not spoken with Lightfoot since Johnson’s retirement was announced late last week, Foreman believes he has a good idea of what the mayor wants, having served with her on the police board.
“I have a very good sense of what she wants and what she thinks about the kind of leadership that is needed to lead this police force – the second largest police force in the country,” Foreman said.
Being an effective communicator with good leadership and management skills is what Foreman believes is most important.
“This is going to have to be somebody who can effectively communicate with the community. Effectively communicate with the business community. Effectively communicate with City Hall. And effectively communicate with the officers who protect the city every day,” said Foreman. “This will be a person with good management skills who knows how to work through complex issues.”
And he is open-minded as to whether the next top cop comes from within the ranks of the department or from the outside.
“I absolutely believe that there are pros and cons to having someone internal and pros and cons to having someone external … I think there are probably several good internal candidates and probably some good candidates who are external,” he said.
“We are looking to identify the right candidate who can help us lead the police force,” he added.