Local pastors say ending CPD's merit promotions could hurt efforts to promote diversity in the department

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Less than a week after he put an end to merit promotions in the Chicago Police Department, Interim Superintendent Charlie Beck was getting pushback today from some West Side pastors. They are concerned it could hurt efforts to promote diversity in the department.

"The fact that he's only here as a interim and used this occasion to say that the merit system does not work, is not good enough for us," said Pastor Jacques Conway, District Supt. Chicago United Methodist Church.

ABC7 looked at the most recent data available on merit promotions from 2006 until 2017. We found that the greatest number, at 36-percent, went to white officers, while 34-percent of merit promotions went to black officers, and only 25-percent went to Hispanics.

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From 2006 until 2015, there were an average of 33 merit promotions per year. However, during the first two years of Eddie Johnson's tenure as superintendent, it jumped to an average of 84 per year.

"The merit promotion piece is important, but it's not as important as consent decree compliance, building community trust and making this place safe," said Beck said.

For the pastors, the meeting was also a chance to express their concerns about police accountability and building community trust.

"We're hoping that the superintendent heard us today and the he knows that we're partners with helping Chicago become a safer place to live," said Pastor Cy Fields, President Leaders Network

But knowing that Beck will only be here for a few months, Tuesday's meeting came with a message for the mayor.

"The next police chief must be a person who is committed to diversity and has a plan and a strategy for making the police department reflect the racial demographics of our city," said Pastor Ira Acree, Greater St. John Bible Church.

The faith leaders said they are also planning a meeting with the mayor and the head of the police board to personally convey those concerns.
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