by Todd Feurer, CBS Chicago web producer


CHICAGO (CBS) — Nearly five months after launching a nationwide search for a permanent successor to former Police Supt. Eddie Johnson, the Chicago Police Board is set to meet on Wednesday to announce the three nominees it is recommending to Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

The board will hold a special meeting Wednesday at 4 p.m. via teleconference to announce the nominations.

A total of 25 people applied for the position. According to published reports, the three nominees will come from a short list that includes four names: Chicago Police Department Deputy Chief of Patrol Ernest Cato, former Los Angeles Police Department chief of detectives and current Chicago Police Department consultant Sean Malinowski, former Dallas Police Chief David Brown, and Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman.

The board has declined to identify any of the applicants, or confirm or deny any short list exists.

“Because disclosing the identity of an applicant could negatively impact an applicant’s current employment and hamper a public body from attracting qualified applicants for open positions, a list of the 25 applicants will not be made available,” the board’s executive director, Max Cproni, said in an email.

Once the nominees are announced, Mayor Lightfoot can either choose one to appoint as superintendent, or ask the board to come up with another list of nominees. Her pick would have to be confirmed by the City Council.

Before the Police Board announced Wednesday it would hold a special meeting to present the nominees, the mayor declined to speculate how soon she would

“When we have something to announce, we’ll announce it publicly,” she said.

Interim Police Supt. Charlie Beck, a former LAPD police chief who has been serving as the city’s top cop since Johnson was fired in December, has said he’s willing to stay as long as he’s needed but says he family hopes he can return to California as soon as possible.

“I hope that in the last four months you have come to know that I care about this city, and I would never leave it in a time of crisis like this,” Beck said last week, referring to the coronavirus pandemic.

Lightfoot fired Johnson in December, accusing him of lying to her about the circumstances of being found asleep behind the wheel of his SUV last October. The city’s inspector general has launched an investigation into the incident.

Johnson was found asleep behind the wheel of his SUV early on Oct. 17, after he said he had gone out for dinner with a group of friends the night before. He later blamed the incident on a mix-up with his medication, but did not mention that he had been drinking before he fell asleep behind the wheel of his car. The mayor later revealed that Johnson had been drinking that night.

While the mayor declined to say exactly what Johnson lied to her and the public about, she said video evidence from the incident contradicted Johnson’s statements to her. Johnson was already getting ready to retire when Lightfoot fired him, and the police board had launched a search effort for a new top cop in November.

Lightfoot has declined to go into specifics about what Johnson lied about, “out of deference to his wife and children,” but sources told CBS 2 Johnson had been out drinking with a woman who was not his wife hours before he was found asleep at the wheel.

Johnson has denied misleading the mayor or the public, but has apologized for a “lapse of judgment” in the incident.