The Chicago Police Board Wednesday announced its top three candidates for the position of Chicago Police superintendent, with sources saying Mayor Lori Lightfoot will make her selection on Thursday.
The board nominated CPD Deputy Chief Ernest Cato, west suburban Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman and former Dallas Police Chief David Brown to replace former Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who was relieved of his duties in December.
The Board held a special public meeting Wednesday to announce its picks, held via audio conference as Illinois remains under a stay-at-home order during the coronavirus outbreak.
The expectation that Lightfoot will announce her final selection Thursday means she's already conducted interviews with the top three candidates. Multiple sources have indicated to NBC 5 that the top two of those three were Cato and Brown.
Cato is the deputy chief of patrol for Area North and a 29-year veteran of the force, according to CPD, who said he was promoted to his current role in October 2019. In a statement announcing his promotion from his position as commander of the 15th District, officials said he's "developed and implemented many community-based programs, including the 100 Churches & 100 Blocks Program, Austin Response Team (A.R.T.) and joint police and youth sporting events."
Brown was with the Dallas Police Department for 33 years, spending his last six as the city's top cop before his retirement in 2016. Perhaps most notably during his tenure, he lead the department during the city's deadly police shooting in July 2016, when a gunman targeted officers in downtown Dallas, fatally shooting five officers and wounding nine others. Since his retirement, he's taken advisory roles and speaking engagements on security, law enforcement and crisis management, according to his website.
Ziman has been with the Aurora Police Department since 1994 and was named chief in 2016, according to department's website. She too stepped into the national spotlight in tragedy, leading the department during a deadly mass shooting in February 2019, during which a gunman entered the Henry Pratt Company's industrial complex and opened fire.
Six people including the shooter - who had recently been let go from the company - were killed and five officers were wounded by gunfire or shrapnel. If chosen, Ziman - who revealed last week that she tested positive for COVID-19 and has been recovering from mild symptoms in quarantine at home - would be the first female head of CPD.
The three finalists were selected from a pool of 25 people who applied for the job.
The next superintendent will replace former Supt. Eddie Johnson, who Lightfoot fired in December, one month before his previously planned retirement was set to take effect.
She alleged that he "intentionally misled" her and the public about an October incident in which he was found slumped behind the wheel of his car. He initially said a change in his medication caused him to become lightheaded, but later admitted that he had been drinking prior to the incident.
Former Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck has served as interim CPD superintendent until a permanent replacement is chosen.