After a three-month nationwide search, the Chicago Police Board on Thursday announced three finalists in the running to be the city's next superintendent.
The finalists are Dr. Cedric Alexander, public safety director of DeKalb County, Georgia; Anne Kirkpatrick, retired police chief of Spokane, Washington; and Deputy Police Supt. Eugene Williams, chief of the Bureau of Support Services, which serves the Chicago Police Department.
“This was no ordinary search for a new Police Superintendent because these are not ordinary times,” Police Board President Lori Lightfoot said in a statement, noting “Chicago is at a critical juncture."
"The person who is selected to lead the Police Department must fundamentally change the relationship between Chicago’s police and the people they serve," Lightfoot said, "particularly the people who are in the communities most impacted and devastated by violent crime."
NBC Chicago has learned many of the candidates have big-city experience both in and out of Chicago. A total of 39 have applied to replace former Superintendent Garry McCarthy, who was fired a week after the release of the Laquan McDonald shooting video.
One person noticeably missing from the list of finalists is Interim Police Superintendent John Escalante.
"I have't been given any reason but I haven't asked either," Escalante said about the list.
Escalante - who applied for the permanent job - says he doesn't know if the recent spike in violence factored into the board's decision, but says he respects the process.
"They're all highly qualified people, so I just like I said want if possible to remain first deputy and continue to work with next superintendent," Escalante said.
Despite the number of applicants, President of Chicago's Fraternal Order of Police Dean Angelo Sr. said, "I don't know who in their right mind would want it to be honest with you."
After months of public input and vetting, the Chicago Police Board will turn over the finalists to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who says he is ready to make a choice.
“We are confident that we have selected the three best-qualified candidates to lead and inspire the men and women of the Chicago Police Department to protect our communities, and to provide them with a new framework of clear accountability,” Lightfoot said.
Dr. Cedric Alexander, the current police chief in suburban Atlanta's Dekalb County, is also a former Miami police officer. Despite his experience, Angelo Sr. said an outsider might be a tough sell.
"Most of the officers would like to see someone familiar, and someone from within the ranks because they know the department, they don't need to get re-acclimated to the city of Chicago, the neighborhoods," Angelo Sr. said.
But Angelo Sr. admits many will be critical of an internal promotion, too.
The next superintendent will be tasked with reforming a department under federal investigation, fixing broken public trust and handling a staggering increase in violence. Angelo says the union would like a boss with extensive foot patrol experience.
Many in the community voiced they want an African-American chief. Others, including many youth activists, say they no superintendent will be trusted in this current administration.
"There's no commissioner, there's no head of police that will reform the CPD that still works for Mayor Rahm Emanuel," community activist Tess Raser said.
But Angelo says he's confident in Emanuel.
"He appreciates what the police do. He's in a politically tough position," Angleo Sr. said.
Whomever the mayor picks, the candidate must still be approved by city council. The police board will give an update on the superintendent search at a special meeting Thursday morning.