Photo: Nick Ut, AP
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CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago’s mayor on Friday named former Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck to serve as Chicago’s interim police superintendent, a day after the city’s top police officer announced he’s retiring.
Beck’s name surfaced as a possible interim superintendent even before Eddie Johnson made his expected announcement that he was stepping down after more than three years as superintendent and more than 30 years with the department. Johnson, 59, will remain with the department until the end of the year, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said.
The son of a Los Angeles Department Police Chief deputy chief, Beck spent more than 40 years with the police force replacing William Bratton as chief in 2009. He retired last year on his 65th birthday.
In his nine years as chief, Beck gained was known for mixing reforms with old-school policing. His tenure was marked with efforts to improve community relations, particularly amid the Black Lives Matter movement, and he equipped officers with body cameras. Like Johnson, he refused to help federal authorities in their push against illegal immigration.
But Beck, now 66, clashed with the civilian police commission that oversees the department, as well as the district attorney’s office and the police union. In an unprecedented move, he recommended that prosecutors charge an officer who shot and killed an unarmed homeless man in 2015, though the district attorney’s office declined to file a case.
Beck comes to a city that often makes headlines for shootings and homicides, although those crimes have dropped since Johnson took over in 2016. Beck takes over a department that has dramatically expended the use of high-tech crime-fighting technology and implemented the largest rollout of police body cameras in the United States.
In Chicago, Beck will be a newcomer running a department where the rank-and-file has had rocky relationships with outsiders. Jody Weis, hired by then-Mayor Richard M. Daley after a long career with the FBI, was not a popular superintendent and then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s choice, Garry McCarthy was even less popular with the force than Weis.
Beck’s appointment marks at least the second time Lightfoot has turned to Los Angeles to fill a key position. Previously, she named Susan Lee as the city’s deputy mayor for public safety in the hopes that she could help reduce the gang violence that continues to plague the city. At the time of Lee’s appointment, Lightfoot’s office made clear the mayor was impressed with a 2007 article that Lee co-authored called, “A Call to Action: A case for a Comprehensive Solution to LA’s Gang Violence Epidemic.”