ABC7 could not confirm Tuesday a newspaper report that the Chicago Police Board has reduced its list of contenders from over 40 down to three. And, in a surprise to some, only one of the remaining candidates on the reported list is a Chicago policeman.
The Chicago Sun-Times report said chief of detectives Al Wysinger is the only Chicago cop left in the running to lead the department.
At police headquarters Tuesday morning, former and acting superintendent Terry Hillard gave Wysinger a glowing review.
"Al is a very dynamic individual who's got street smarts, came up through the ranks, was a district commander," Hillard said.
Wysinger reportedly is one of three finalists. He is joined by Newark, New Jersey, police chief Garry McCarthy and Washington, DC-based national drug czar R. Gil Kerlikowske, who once served as Seattle police chief.
Emanuel, President Barack Obama's former chief of staff, worked with Kerlikowske at the White House as recently as last year.
Monday, the mayor-elect was asked about the possible choice of an out-of-towner:
"I'm looking for a leadership and a person who understands that the beat officer is the backbone of the law enforcement community," Emanuel said.
Alderman Michelle Harris, who chairs the City Council's police and fire committee, is on record favoring a local cop.
"That would be my personal wish, but I don't get to make that decision," said Harris. "And so, knowing that, I've got to really put all my eggs in the basket with the mayor-elect and allow him to make his decision."
The city's Fraternal Order of Police took no position on the local versus out-of-towner debate, e-mailing a statement saying, "Hopefully, one of the new superintendent's primary concerns will be the safety and welfare of his officers."
McCarthy, who began his police career in New York City, was a finalist for the Chicago job in 2003 before Mayor Richard M. Daley appointed Phil Cline.
Hillard said Wysinger's rise through the ranks reminds him of his own career.
"Al came up, and was in narcotics and gangs, and then became district commander and named deputy chief of detective division, and so he brings a lot to the table," said Hillard.
The police board also has not said how or when it will submit its list of nominees to the mayor's office for consideration.
Keep in mind that Emanuel does not take office until May 16 and by ordinance the list cannot go to the mayor-elect. But if the list is made public Emanuel would know the finalists just like everyone else and could conduct interviews with the three candidates before he takes office.