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Rahm Pick For Police Superintendent Is Department's Own Eddie Johnson

By  Alex Nitkin Ted Cox and Mark Konkol | March 27, 2016 8:34am | Updated on March 28, 2016 9:38am

 Chicago Police Chief of Patrol Eddie Johnson is expected to be announced as the city's new police superintendent on Monday.
Chicago Police Chief of Patrol Eddie Johnson is expected to be announced as the city's new police superintendent on Monday.
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DNAinfo/Alex Nitkin

CHICAGO — Mayor Rahm Emanuel will announce Monday that he's chosen Chicago Police Chief of Patrol Eddie Johnson to be the department's next superintendent, DNAinfo Chicago has confirmed.

That calls for the Police Board to return to square one in selecting finalists.

The surprise decision by Emanuel to decline choosing one of the three candidates nominated by the Police Board earlier this month was first reported by the Sun-Times Saturday night.

By city law, the mayor must choose one of the Police Board's three nominees for the job. Emanuel will get around this policy by asking the body to scrap its offerings and come up with a new list that includes Johnson, who initially did not apply for the post because he didn't want it, according to a City Hall source.

Reporter Ted Cox tries to explain Mayor Emanuel's process for selecting a new top cop.

Johnson was made chief of patrol during the staff shakeup after the ouster of the previous superintendent, Garry McCarthy, last December. He had been deputy chief of patrol since 2012, and before that spent four years as commander of the Auburn Gresham district on the South Side.

A City Hall source called Johnson "an excellent choice," and minority aldermen in the City Council signed off on it Sunday.

Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th), chairman of the City Council's black caucus, and Ald. George Cardenas (12th), chairman of the Latino caucus, issued a joint statement Sunday saying: "Deputy Chief Eddie Johnson is a well-respected leader within the Chicago Police Department. As Interim superintendent, we expect him to demonstrate a commitment to transparency, accountability and an end to the culture that has led to the use of excessive force and the 'Blue Wall' of silence.

“We are hopeful that his leadership will help to boost morale within the CPD rank and file, and will begin to build trust and authentic communication and collaboration between the Department and our communities."

On Wednesday, Johnson led a police news conference announcing charges for a man who allegedly shot an officer in Washington Heights earlier this month. Johnson used the opportunity to call for tougher sentencing laws and called recent officer shootings evidence of a "broken" criminal justice system.

The Mayor's Office announced before a Monday afternoon news conference that Johnson will temporarily be named interim superintendent, replacing John Escalante. Escalante will reportedly return to the department as first deputy.

"The mayor is confident that Eddie Johnson is the right person at the right time to fight crime, lift morale in the Police Department and build on the work that's been done to restore trust and accountability in the Police Department," a release from Emanuel's office stated.

Once Johnson was persuaded by Emanuel to vie for the post, "a whole new application process" had to be launched with Johnson the intended pick, a City Hall source said.

Still, the source described the search and selection process, which now formally returns to the beginning, as "an embarrassment to the city."

Earlier this month, the Police Board had recommended three finalists: Cedric Alexander, public safety director of DeKalb County, Ga.; Anne Kirkpatrick, retired police chief of Spokane, Wash.; and Chicago Deputy Police Supt. Eugene Williams.

According to a City Hall source, the mayor selected Alexander, but was turned off when Alexander started telling people he had the job before the formal announcement. Alexander described for NBC5's Mary Ann Ahern an awkward interview process in which he thought Emanuel was "very disrespectful."

Police Board President Lori Lightfoot released a statement Sunday saying she "has not received formal communication from the mayor" and "will be taking no action" until she does.

Last week, the Council's black caucus demanded that Emanuel select an African-American from within the Police Department.

The Latino caucus already had gone on record stating that Escalante should not only be considered as a finalist but should be promoted to the position.

"We are tired of Latinos being used for interims," Ald. Milly Santiago (31st) said earlier this month.

She pointedly added, "The African-American community has had their chance to have a black superintendent."

A city spokeswoman said Emanuel "has spent the past 3½ months talking to police officers, community leaders, residents and law-enforcement experts about the leader our city needs right now as we work to lift morale at CPD, fight crime and restore trust in the department.

"He factored their thoughts and input into his decision, which he will announce in the coming days," she added.

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