In his first full day as Chicago’s interim police superintendent, Eddie Johnson wanted to make one thing clear- he’s walked the beat, and he knows the challenges.
Johnson was appointed as interim superintendent this week after Mayor Rahm Emanuel rejected the Chicago Police Board’s three recommended finalists. Emanuel ordered a second nationwide search be conducted by the board and Johnson said he would apply for the position.
City alderman told NBC 5 police reporter Mary Ann Ahern Tuesday, however, they are considering an option to change the city ordinance that requires the police board to conduct a second search and name three new finalists.
"It's an option," said Ald. Ariel Reboyras, chairman of the police committee. "We have not yet made a decision."
Activists have spoken out about Emanuel’s decision, upset that after a four month search the mayor ignored the police board’s recommendations.
“You cannot have a corrupt process continue,” said Greg Livingston.
Johnson, who never applied for the top cop job, acknowledged in an interview Tuesday that critics believe he will be controlled by Emanuel.
“We’ll just have to let that play out and we’ll see,” he said.
After rising through the ranks for 27 years, Johnson, a lifelong Chicagoan, says he may be low-key, but he knows how to speak up.
“Police officers are smart, they can smell a rat," he said. “If they think City Hall is playing politics with the department, that makes them reluctant to do what they need to do.”
When exactly a permanent superintendent could be appointed remains unclear. The police board said in a statement Monday that it needs to “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,” the board said. “Until that time, we will have no further comment.”