Dr. Cedric Alexander told NBC 5 in an exclusive interview that Mayor Rahm Emanuel initially offered him the role of police superintendent before reversing course and choosing the Chicago Police Department's Chief of Patrol Eddie Johnson for the job.
Alexander — the current public safety director of DeKalb County, Georgia, and a clinical psychologist with more than 35 years of policing experience — had been labeled the front-runner for weeks.
He told NBC 5 that Emanuel offered him the job when the two met on Thursday in Washington, D.C., his third meeting with the mayor in six days. Alexander also flew to Chicago last weekend and met with Emanuel both Saturday and Sunday.
Alexander said their second one-on-one meeting Sunday went so poorly he left the interview and notified Lori Lightfoot at the Chicago Police Board to withdraw his name from consideration.
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"It was his overall tone and demeanor," Alexander told NBC 5, saying that Emanuel questioned his credentials. However, after Alexander's call to Lightfoot, Emanuel reached out in what Alexander described as a "sheepish and nervous" way.
"You were very disrespectful," Alexander said he told the mayor, to which Emanuel responded by asking, "Can we hit the reset button?"
When Alexander told him he was going to be in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, the mayor said he would meet him there. That Thursday meeting was when he suggested Alexander be the next superintendent.
Alexander told NBC 5 that Emanuel said he would make Johnson the first deputy and move Interim Police Superintendent John Escalante to OEMC. Alexander was initially told to fly to Chicago for a meeting with Johnson on Monday and the formal announcement would be made Wednesday.
But on Friday, Alexander was then told to wait for further direction. By Saturday night, Emanuel had reversed course and called Alexander, saying he was "going in a new direction."
"I would like to thank Lori Lightfoot and the great work that she and the police board did to identify three outstanding finalists for this position," Alexander said.
Alexander is often called on by the Justice Department to work with police departments across the country. Alexander had the backing of former Chicago Police Superintendent Terry Hillard and Philadelphia Police Chief Charles Ramsey, who is now an adviser to the Chicago Police Department.
The Chicago City Council Black Caucus demanded a hearing with the three finalists on Thursday. By the following day, the city council scheduled a hearing for this coming Thursday, expressing concern about choosing a candidate from outside Chicago.
While the mayor initially asked the police board to conduct a nationwide search, his staff notified Chicago aldermen late Saturday night he planned to choose Johnson — who was not a finalist, nor did he apply for the job — as the interim superintendent.