Chicago’s Interim Top Cop, An Outsider, Vows To Win Over Officers ‘Handshake To Handshake’
Updated at 11:49 a.m.
Former Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck promised Friday to win the trust of Chicago cops “face to face, handshake to handshake” as he becomes the first outsider in decades to serve as the city’s interim police superintendent.
“I come from a police family,” Beck said, listing law-enforcement positions held by his father, sister, son and daughters. “I don’t just love cops. I am cops.”
Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that Beck, 66, would oversee the police department as the city’s Police Board searches for a permanent replacement for police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who announced his retirement Thursday.
Beck, Lightfoot and Johnson appeared at a news conference Friday morning.
“Even though my stay here will be brief, I look forward to working with the residents and people that work in Chicago, meeting them, learning about their needs, and making this a better place,” Beck said.
Johnson is scheduled to stay on the job until the end of the year.
“I’m really happy to see him here,” Johnson said of Beck on Friday, “because I know one thing, he’s a man of integrity, he’s a man that tries to do the best. He always tries to fall on the side of right.”
Beck retired as Los Angeles’ top cop in 2018 after leading that department for nearly nine years.
He is known for rehabbing the LAPD’s Rampart Division after a corruption scandal, embracing community policing, and leading his department to the end of a 12-year consent decree.
But the activist group Black Lives Matter L.A. urged Chicagoans to mobilize against his appointment here. The group blamed him for, among other things, shootings by officers and alleged racial profiling on his watch.
Beck responded to the criticism Friday.
“While I have supported the vast majority of officer-involved uses of force, when I see something wrong, I say it and I demand prosecution,” Beck said. “In certain cases I’ve made arrests myself of individuals that have broken the law while in uniform.”
Lightfoot’s response to the criticism was that Beck would push the police department forward on a reform path.
“We’re doing this because we want to strengthen the city of Chicago, strengthen our police department and continue to build on our success of Superintendent Johnson in bringing the community and police together,” Lightfoot said.
Beck referred to Johnson as a “good friend” and said they communicated about police matters while Beck was the top cop in Los Angeles.
Lightfoot said of Beck, “I’m grateful that he’s chosen to step up in this time of need, and I know that he and Superintendent Johnson will work together to have a seamless transition.”