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Black Aldermen Want Hearings With Police Superintendent Finalists

A group of black Chicago aldermen say they want an African American veteran of the police department to be the next superintendent, but they say they could also be convinced otherwise.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is considering three finalists for the job of top cop in the Chicago Police Department: Dr. Cedric Alexander, a CNN analyst and director of public safety in DeKalb County, Georgia; Anne Kirkpatrick, a former police chief in Spokane, Washington and current instructor at the FBI’s leadership program; and Eugene Williams, Chief of Support Services for the Chicago Police Department. Emanuel fired former Superintendent Garry McCarthy after the release of the Laquan McDonald police shooting video.

At a press conference Monday, Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6), chairman of the black caucus, described his colleagues’ preferred police chief as someone who “has the trust of the rank and file, somone that knows Chicago, and knows how the police department works here.”

Of the three finalists, Eugene Williams is the only one who fits that bill, but Sawyer said the caucus isn’t actually endorsing Williams because they want a chance to interview all the candidates before the mayor makes his final selection. 

“If a white person could convince us to that matter, to this level, we’d consider this person as well,” Sawyer said.

If the mayor chooses a superintendent before the caucus gets a chance to speak with the finalists, Sawyer said the caucus would consider not voting to confirm the nominee, a threat that was echoed by a few of the colleagues standing by him at the podium.

After the press conference, Ald. Carrie Austin (34) said as a “loyalist” she agrees with her caucus, but she personally is endorsing Williams for superintendent “one thousand percent”. She said she has shared her thoughts on Williams with Mayor Emanuel.

Lauren Chooljian covers city politics for WBEZ. Follow her @laurenchooljian.

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