CHICAGO (CBS) — With Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson now retiring, we don’t yet have any idea who will replace him on a permanent basis – though there are interim candidates on the horizon.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot, though, did not want to talk about that on Thursday, focusing instead on Johnson’s announcement.
“I am so at peace, mentally,” Johnson said.
As CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reported, the outgoing superintendent said it is time to step away – and he doesn’t care if people have questions like, “Why now?”
“If people want to speculate on something, have at it,” Johnson said. “I’m OK with that.”
Earlier this week, the 31-year Chicago Police Department veteran said he was considering the move and discussed it with Mayor Lori Lightfoot – who praised his service Thursday.
“I want to reiterate to the superintendent, and to the city, that he continues to have my unwavering confidence and support,” Mayor Lightfoot said.
Johnson will officially retire at the end of the year. If past searches are any indication, naming his replacement could take months.
“I will be more than happy to talk to you another time about what the next steps are going to look like,” the mayor said.
But not today.
Even a representative of the Chicago Police Board – the agency that vets replacement candidates – said he was not authorized to discuss it. But he said the process has not yet formally begun.
Johnson: “As far as who replaces me, I just think it should be someone that wants to lead the city and this department in the right direction, and keep the momentum going.”
Kozlov: “Internally? Someone internally?”
Johnson: “I don’t know who that person is. That’s up to the mayor to decide.”
Johnson was named superintendent three months after former Supt. Garry McCarthy was fired by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the aftermath of the Laquan McDonald police shooting.
Emanuel rejected the Police Board’s three internal recommendations before appointing Johnson.
CBS 2 has learned there are three possible interim candidates – including former Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck, CPD First Deputy Supt. Anthony Riccio, and CPD Chief Barbara West.
The head of the Fraternal Order of Police hopes the union has a say.
“There may be a phone call from her. I certainly would be interested in talking to the mayor to find out what her ideas are and see if we can offer some suggestions,” said Chicago FOP President Kevin Graham.
Multiple sources, including some of CBS 2’s Brad Edwards’, said the interim job is Beck’s if he wants it. But Beck just retired from the LAPD in 2018, so that could be a factor.
The police union, not surprisingly, would like somebody from within the Chicago Police Department named to the permanent top spot. Prior to Johnson, that hadn’t happened since 2003 when Phil Cline was appointed by then-Mayor Richard M. Daley.