Rahm Emanuel Rejects Candidates for Chicago Police Chief; Names Eddie Johnson as New Interim Chief

Eddie Johnson (Rich Hein, Sun-Times)
Eddie Johnson (Rich Hein, Sun-Times)

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has rejected three finalists recommended by the Chicago police board for the city’s top police post and selected the force’s current chief of patrol as the new interim police superintendent, city council officials said Sunday.

Emanuel (D) is trying to replace Superintendent Garry McCarthy, whose firing was part of a frantic effort to regain trust in the police department and his own leadership following the release in November of video showing a white police officer fatally shooting an unarmed black teenager 16 times.

Alderman Anthony Beale said the mayor’s office called him Saturday to inform him that Emanuel had selected Chicago Chief of Patrol Eddie Johnson as interim superintendent. Johnson, who is African American, was not among the board’s recommendations.

“While I supported the nomination of Gene Williams, I believe Eddie Johnson is equally suited to lead the Chicago Police Department and I support Mayor Emanuel’s decision,” Beale said. “Eddie Johnson knows Chicago, he knows the police department and the challenges facing our neighborhoods. He is a true leader and will bring the fundamental changes CPD needs right now. I look forward to getting to work with Eddie right away.”

Kelley Quinn, Emanuel’s spokeswoman, declined to comment on whether Johnson is the mayor’s pick, but said he has made a decision and has informed the three nominees. She said Emanuel would announce his decision within days.

“While each of the finalists had strong qualifications, the mayor did not feel that any of them were the complete package that Chicago needs at this time — and thus none were offered the position,” Quinn said. “The mayor called each of them individually late Saturday to let them know of his decision.”