Chicago Police

Former LAPD Chief Named as Chicago's Interim Top Cop

Charlie Beck comes highly recommended by the law enforcement community, but not without criticism

Former Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck has been named the interim superintendent of the Chicago Police Department following Supt. Eddie Johnson's retirement announcement, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Friday. 

Johnson and Lightfoot joined Beck at City Hall Friday for an introduction to the city. 

"I think he’s got, again, a record and a legacy of bridging a divide between community that’s really admirable," Lightfoot said in touting Beck's history as chief in LA. "This is a guy who knows how to get something done."  

Johnson added that Beck is "a man of integrity that always tries to do his best." 

Beck's appointment drew praise from some in the law enforcement community, with former LAPD chief and NYC police commissioner Bill Bratton calling the decision a "good move."

But he doesn't come without criticism. Black Lives Matter in Los Angeles put out a warning Friday to Chicago saying "you don't want him."

Beck defended himself by saying, "What I think my legacy is in that community is making it safer and bringing together residents and police as a partnership and I stand by that." 

When asked about the community group's concerns, Lightfoot said "there's always critics."

"It comes with the job," she said. "Join the club."  

The announcement allows Chicago's Police Board to begin its search for Johnson's official replacement - a job Beck said he would not take. 

"No I would not," he said when asked if he would want the position. "First of all I think it's important to the process that I be absolutely honest with Chicago and say that and then stick to my word."

Lightfoot would not confirm rumors earlier this week on who might be on the list, saying she had not begun the process of looking for a replacement for Johnson. 

"I’ve seen a lot of speculation about different names, some of which are wildly offbase," she said Wednesday. 

Johnson, who officially announced his retirement Thursday, will continue to serve through the end of the year, Lightfoot said. 

"CPD needs strong leadership and I want the next top cop to continue making improvements to public safety and in the department that I love," Johnson said.  

Lightfoot acknowledged Thursday that Johnson "continues to have my unwavering confidence and support." 

"He took on a job he did not apply for at a time when our city could have come apart," she said. 

She noted on Friday that "a lot of valuable work has already been done," saying "the infrastructure that [Johnson] put in place was built to last."

Beck, she said, "is going to be able to walk into a very good department that has very good relationships with members of the community." 

Johnson said Thursday he was stepping down to spend more time with his family. He noted, however, that he's not done working. 

"It's time for someone else to pin these four stars to their shoulders," he said on the verge of tears in a press conference. "These stars can sometimes feel like carrying the weight of the world, but I'm confident that I leave CPD in a better place than when I became superintendent." 

Johnson acknowledged that being the city's top cop "has taken its toll."

"Taken a toll on my health, my family, my friends, but my integrity remains in tact," he said. 

The decision comes days after Johnson, who is currently the center of an investigation, said he was considering retirement so he could spend more time with his family. 

Johnson told reporters that his decision was not related to the recent investigation into an incident in which he was found asleep behind the wheel of his SUV. 

Lightfoot said Johnson admitted to her that he "had a couple of drinks" before he was found asleep behind the wheel of his car last month at a stop sign.

Johnson initially said a change in medication triggered the incident and he felt "lightheaded" while driving, but Lightfoot later clarified during an interview with the Sun-Times that Johnson revealed "he had a couple of drinks with dinner." 

Johnson ordered an internal investigation of the incident, citing the need for "transparency."

"Whether you are a police officer or a superintendent, all officers ought to be held to the highest standard," Johnson said through a spokesperson. 

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