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Baltimore Officer Who Exposed Police Racism Wants To Be Chicago's Top Cop

By Tatiana Walk-Morris | February 23, 2016 5:40am
 Baltimore Police Department officers stand behind a barrier while protestors gather near the Baltimore Police Department's Western District police station during a march and vigil over the death of Freddie Gray, April 21, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Gray, 25, died from spinal injuries on April 19, one week after being taken into police custody.
Baltimore Police Department officers stand behind a barrier while protestors gather near the Baltimore Police Department's Western District police station during a march and vigil over the death of Freddie Gray, April 21, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Gray, 25, died from spinal injuries on April 19, one week after being taken into police custody.
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Getty Images/Drew Angerer

DOWNTOWN — As Chicago officials attempt to restore public trust after a series of police misconduct cases, the search for the city’s new Chicago Police superintendent continues — and an outspoken former Baltimore officer wants in.

The city is reviewing applications from candidates locally and in other cities, with a total of 39 candidates as of the application deadline on Jan. 15, according to CBS News.

One candidate is Michael Wood Jr., a former Baltimore police officer and Black Lives Matter supporter who made international headlines when he decided to publicly tweet about what he viewed as wrongdoing and injustice within his police department.

Michael Wood Jr. tells us why he is uniquely qualified to lead The CPD.

Fed up with the misconduct that he says he had seen in the Baltimore police department, Wood began posting wrongdoing he had witnessed on Twitter, which captured the attention of national outlets like Newsweek and The Washington Post. He publicly left the force in 2014.

Wood was a Marine and served in Baltimore’s police department for 11 years. The Baltimore City Police Department and Baltimore’s Fraternal Order of Police declined to comment on Wood’s time on the force.

During his time in the Baltimore Police Department, Wood noticed that only certain officers were mentored through the promotion process, which required extensive testing to move up the ranks. Wood said he created a guide to help officers navigate the process. He also attempted to run for president of the Fraternal Order of Police, and was a finalist for the academy director of Baltimore’s police department.

Wood said he wants the top cop job in Chicago so he can implement much-needed police reform here and build a model for reforming police departments in other cities.

“I started internally in Baltimore trying to fight the system, but I was too early. I was seven years too early,” Wood said. “If we’re going to fix it, what better place to fix it than Chicago?”

He rejects being called a whistleblower, because he didn’t name individuals who were misbehaving and said that black people have been calling for an end to police brutality for years.

 Michael Wood Jr., former Baltimore police officer and police reform advocate, was one of 39 candidates who applied to become Chicago's next superintendent.
Michael Wood Jr., former Baltimore police officer and police reform advocate, was one of 39 candidates who applied to become Chicago's next superintendent.
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Wood said he has held panel discussions after screenings of Black Lives Matter documentaries, participated in protests and connected with other protesters in Baltimore including Campaign Zero activist and Baltimore mayoral candidate DeRay McKesson.

Ultimately, if considered for the position, Wood said his goal is to pass the power of steering the police department back to the public and implement reforms that can be modeled across the country. He said he wants to make it easier for officers to report misconduct anonymously, give the police review board more power, and increase collaboration across other government agencies so as to help citizens and prevent incarceration.

Wood said Chicago officials have not contacted him about his application, except to ask if he was still interested in the position. The Independent Police Review Authority will review the applications and submit three recommendations to Mayor Rahm Emanuel by the end of February.

Ideally, Wood said he wants the city divided into five districts — three of which will include the neighborhoods with the fewest socioeconomic opportunities — and have representatives from those districts guiding the direction of the police department.

“We’ve had enough. We can’t keep treating people like this,” Wood said. “From then out, whatever is good for the weakest among us is good for the strongest of us.”

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