Chicago Mayor Emanuel reportedly rejects finalists for police chief, will make own pick

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has reportedly turned down three finalists in search for the city’s new police chief and will choose his own top cop.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported Saturday that Emanuel asked Eddie Johnson, the city’s chief of patrol, to become Chicago’s next police in an effort to boost police officers’ morale and restore trust with the community.

Emanuel spurns the Police Board’s three recommended finalists to replace superintendent Garry McCarthy who was fired in December after officer Jason Van Dyke was charged with murder in the shooting death of black teenager Laquan McDonald.

According to the Sun-Times, the law requires Emanuel to pick from the finalists the Police Board had recommended. Emanuel plans to reject the three names and appoint Johnson to replace interim superintendent John Escalante, following the law. Emanuel will then ask the Police Board to conduct a second search for candidates.

Johnson is then presumably going to apply for the job and become one of the finalists in the second search. The mayor could then make it official and give Johnson the job.

The candidates the Police Board named were Cedric Alexander, the public safety director in Georgia’s DeKalb County, Anne Kirkpatrick, the former Spokane police chief and Eugene Williams, a deputy chief in Chicago who was also a finalist for the job in 2011.

The newspaper reported that Alexander might have had the job if he didn’t tell the Atlanta media he thought he was a lock for the job. Emanuel was reportedly infuriated when media outlets started trying to confirm whether Alexander had been offered the job, the Sun-Times reported.

Sources told the paper that Emanuel believes only an insider could restore the trust of African-Americans after the release of the McDonald video, which showed him getting shot 16 times.

“The mayor wants an insider, and he was not happy with the choices presented to him,” an unidentified source told the Sun-Times.

Johnson is a 27-year Chicago Police Department veteran. He came up through the ranks of the patrol division. The Sun-Times reported that his demeanor isn’t polarizing as some others in the department have been described.

Johnson was a former commander in the crime-riddled community of Chicago’s Gresham District. He received the promotion in 2008. He was promoted to deputy chief of patrol in 2012 and was promoted to chief of patrol after Escalante was promoted when McCarthy was fired.

“Chief Johnson has significant experience managing large-scale special events and was instrumental in the operational planning and response of the 2012 NATO Summit,” the department said in a statement announcing his promotion at the time. “He has also served as a supervisor in the detective bureau and is currently completing his master’s degree in public policy and administration at Northwestern University.”

Johnson reportedly lives on the south side of the city and has a daughter.

The Chicago Sun-Times, citing the Citizens Police Data Project, reported that there have been no citizen complaints against Johnson. However, court records showed that Johnson and another officer were sued in a personal injury case that was settled in 1997 for an unspecified amount.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Click for more from the Chicago Sun-Times.

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