CHICAGO (Reuters) - Former Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck was made Chicago’s interim police superintendent on Friday, taking the temporary challenge of leading the second-largest force in the United States.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot praised Beck’s track record of reaching out to minority communities in Los Angeles, and said she fully expected he would do the same as the interim top cop in Chicago.
Beck - who when pressed by reporters said he had no desire to be named as the permanent Chicago superintendent - said he spent most of his career in South Los Angeles and made working with the black community a priority.
“My legacy in that community is making it safer and bringing together police and residents,” Beck, 66, said at a joint news conference with Lightfoot and retiring Chicago Superintendent Eddie Johnson.
Lightfoot also praised Beck’s ability to engage and work hand-in-hand with activists in Los Angeles’ black community.
“If you know LA, you think of Watts, you think of South Central,” Lightfoot said. “He worked together to make those communities safe and engaged those communities. This is a guy who knows how to get something done.”
Beck announced his retirement in January 2018 after serving for nine years as the city’s top cop.
During his tenure, Beck implemented a community policing strategy, in which officers were expected to build relationships within the neighborhoods they patrolled.
Beck also believes the use of data and technology are key law enforcement tools and is a strong supporter of predictive policing, an approach to fight crime with analytics before it happens.
Johnson said on Thursday he would retire after a three-year run marked by a sharp reduction in murders, a federal police misconduct probe and clashes with President Donald Trump.
Johnson’s retirement comes three weeks after patrol officers found him asleep in his car. Johnson, 59, initially said he had fallen asleep due to blood pressure medication, but local media later reported that he told Lightfoot, he had had a “couple of drinks” before driving. The incident is under investigation.
Lightfooot said that the search for a permanent police superintendent was underway, but did not indicate when it may be completed.
Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Chicago; Additional reporting by Brad Brooks in Austin, Texas; Editing by Jonathan Oatis