Hours after Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot fired police superintendent Eddie Johnson for what she called "intolerable actions," Charlie Beck, the interim superintendent of the Chicago Police Department, sent a letter to its members assuring them the department is "headed in the right direction."
In her decision to fire Johnson, Lightfoot cited evidence she had reviewed from an ongoing investigation by the inspector general into an incident in which he was found slumped behind the wheel of his car in October. She added that Johnson "engaged in a series of actions intolerable for any leader in a position of trust."
The termination came one month before Johnson's planned retirement was set to take effect.
Beck, a former Los Angeles police chief, was named interim superintendent following Johnson's retirement announcement - a choice that Lightfoot reinforced on Monday.
"There must be no mistake about the message I am sending today. The 13,400 sworn and the civilian members of the Chicago Police Department who work hard every day deserve a leader they can believe in," she said. "And to achieve the reform and accountability in the department that we know is urgently needed, we require a leader whose actions reflect the virtues of integrity honor and legitimacy - the touchstones of what it takes to have the privilege of being a Chicago police officer. I am confident that interim Supt. Beck is such a leader and that both he and the eventual permanent superintendent will serve with honor.”
In his letter sent to CPD members, interim Supt. Beck said Monday morning's events "likely caused a great deal of unease,” but assured CPD members the department is “stable, strong and headed in the right direction."
Beck also touted progress made by the Chicago Police Department in recent years.
"...In 2016, as America watched this city, you all could have gone in a direction like many other cities," his letter read. "But instead, you developed a crime strategy that has delivered a nearly 40% drop in gun violence in four years. You have embraced community partnership and constitutional policing by implementing a series of reforms and supports that are collaborative as opposed to punitive..."
Beck said over the next several weeks, he'll be visiting police districts and areas across the city and looks forward to meeting officers in person.