CHICAGO—In a move that was revealed over this past weekend, Mayor Rahm Emanuel rejected all three finalists submitted by the Chicago Police Board. On Monday, he officially announced his appointment of 28-year veteran, Eddie Johnson as the Interim Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department. Johnson, formerly the Chief of Patrol is a Chicago native who grew up in Cabrini-Green until he was 9 years-old, relocating to Washington Heights where he resides today.
Mayor Emanuel is asking the Chicago Police Board to conduct a new search process whereas, Johnson will apply for the position for Superintendent in order to become a nominee—later being hired permanently.
Johnson has an extensive history in the Chicago Police Department where he joined as a patrolman in May 1988. He climbed the ranks from patrolman to sergeant, served as a lieutenant in the 15th District, Commander in the 6th District, Deputy Chief for Area Central, Executive Officer, and Chief of Patrol. He is a member of the Executive Board of NOBLE’s Chicago Chapter winning numerous awards including department commendations and a past honoree of the Chicago Defender Men of Excellence award.
The news broke on Saturday to many as a surprise and to some critics who felt the move was a detour from the transparent process put in place in by the Chicago Police Board.
This statement was released by Police Board President, Lori E. Lightfoot.
“Today, the Chicago Police Board received formal notification of the Mayor’s decision to not appoint any of the three finalists for Superintendent previously provided by the Board and to appoint Eddie Johnson as the Interim Superintendent. We will convene as a Board as soon as we are able and decide appropriate next steps. While we appreciate that this is a topic of great importance and interest, the Board needs to take the time necessary to make the best decision possible given the importance of this issue for our City. Until that time, we will have no further comment.”
With both the Black and Latino Aldermanic Caucus demanding an African American or Hispanic Superintendent to address the internal and external problems that plague the Chicago Police Department, the appointment of Eddie Johnson also stresses the importance of hiring someone who has the respect of his peers, community leaders and residents. Over the past few weeks, the Chicago Police Board has held public community hearings as a collective outreach to address resident concerns and feedback on their search. Regardless, the Mayor has the final approval and his office denies extending an official offer to one of the three candidates—DeKalb County Police Chief, Cedric Alexander.
“The three candidates I interviewed have distinguished careers in law enforcement and they all impressed me with their commitment to public safety,” said Mayor Emanuel. “However, as our city works through the challenges ahead, it is more important than ever that we find the right person who knows our city and can provide the level of safety every resident deserves, lift the morale of Chicago’s police officers, and build on the work that’s been done to restore trust and accountability in the police department.”
As Interim Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson takes on his new responsibilities as the ‘top cop’ for the third largest city—on the same day he announced promotions within the police department. Fred L. Waller, current Deputy Chief of CPD Area South was named Chief of Patrol. Kevin B. Navarro, Commander of CPD Area South Detective Division was named Deputy Chief of Area South. In addition, First Deputy Superintendent John Escalante will resume his responsibilities as second in command of the Department. All appointments were effective immediately.
“Fred and Kevin have been extremely talented officers who have earned the respect of a grateful Department,” said Interim Superintendent Johnson. “I am honored to work with them to make Chicago’s streets safer and restore trust with the communities we serve.”