Ex-LAPD chief named interim Chicago police superintendent
Former Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck was named as Chicago’s interim police superintendent by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Friday.
He will fill in until a permanent replacement is found for Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who announced on Thursday he would retire at the end of the year.
Lightfoot said Johnson and Beck would work together over the next few weeks to build a plan for the exact timing of the handover of duties.
She praised Beck and said he had “advanced marked improvement in community relations between the LAPD and the city’s African-American, Latinx, and immigrant communities” while he was head of the Los Angeles Police Department.
He also “stood firmly on the side of immigrant rights in the face of opposition related to Los Angeles’ status as a Sanctuary City, and its choices related to non-cooperation with federal immigration officials,” she said.
Beck said his main objective is “to bring this city together because they trust their cops.”
In a news conference on Thursday in which he announced he was stepping down, neither Johnson nor the mayor would answer questions about an ongoing Inspector General investigation, which was launched after Johnson was found asleep behind the wheel of his car last month.
The police superintendent said he thought he felt ill because of a change in his blood pressure medication. He told Lightfoot that he “had a couple of drinks with dinner.”
An internal investigation was opened at Johnson’s request.
Johnson worked to reduce crime and police shootings
Johnson was appointed superintendent in 2016 by then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel as the embattled police department faced criticism for the city’s violent crime and officer-involved shootings, including the killing of black teenager Laquan McDonald.
A former Chicago officer, Jason Van Dyke, was sentenced in January to nearly 7 years in prison after being found guilty of charges connected to McDonald’s death.
Thursday, Johnson said he was proud of his tenure as the department’s top cop, pointing to lower rates of violent crime and officer-involved shootings. Reducing gun violence, he said, has been “one of the greatest accomplishments of my career.”
Johnson also detailed his efforts to reform the department, including working with the CPD’s critics, enacting new use-of-force policies and helping to bring the department under a consent decree — a 236-page agreement requiring changes to police procedures.
“I expect that this progress will continue for the years to come, and will help us become the model police department that this city richly deserves,” he said.