Chicago Police Board names CPD superintendent finalists

Friday, March 18, 2016
CPD superintendent finalists announced
The Chicago Police Board has named its three finalists in the search for the city's next police superintendent.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Chicago Police Board has named its three finalists in the search for the city's next police superintendent. One of the candidates is an insider with years of command experience with the Chicago Police Department.

Out of a pool of 39 applicants, Dr. Cedric Alexander, Anne E. Kirkpatrick and Eugene Williams rose to the top.

Alexander is the chief operating officer for public safety in DeKalb County, Georgia. Kirkpatrick was the police chief in Spokane, Washington, until she retired in 2012. She served as police chief in a total of three cities over 16 years. Williams is currently the deputy police superintendent in Chicago. He was also a finalist for top cop job in 2011 and has risen through the ranks in his 36 years with the CPD.

MORE: Read resumes and application essays for all 3 candidates

Chicago Police Board President Lori Lightfoot made the announcement at the Harold Washington Library Thursday morning. She said the city's new superintendent must demand accountability and lead the department in a new way. She said it was an exhausting search.

"We looked at every aspect of their experience in policing, as far back as we could possibly go. Particularly, for example, the question of police-involved shootings, how they handled that," Lightfoot said.

The final choice lies with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who also is under fire in the police accountability scandal. Emanuel fired former superintendent Garry McCarthy after officer Jason Van Dyke was charged with murder for shooting Laquan McDonald.

"I'll look at where they came from, I'll look at what they've done, and I'll look at what they've done and whether they have the background to restore the trust in the efforts of community policing. And do it in a way because community policing builds trust and helps us reduce crime," Emanuel said.

After another raucous police board meeting Thursday night, Escalante spoke about being passed over.


Interim Police Superintendent John Escalante did not make the cut, even though he aspired to the job. He was appointed by the mayor to lead the department in the interim.

After another raucous police board meeting Thursday night, Escalante spoke about being passed over.

"The three candidates that the board has selected, other than knowing Gene Williams personally, I know the other two just by name and a little bit about their backgrounds, they're all highly-qualified people," Escalante said.

Lightfoot said the police board would not say why Escalante was not on the list. Escalante himself said he hasn't been told - and hasn't asked - why he didn't make the cut.

On Thursday afternoon, the Chicago City Council's Latino Caucus announced they will send a letter to Mayor Emanuel demanding that Escalante be appointed as the permanent superintendent. They plan to hold a news conference Friday morning.

Escalante said Thursday night he supports the process and wants to work with whoever does get the job.


For the first time in its history, the board engaged with the public to make this decision. Lightfoot thanked the people for their passion and candor in expressing what they believe needs to change.

"This is a really historic moment. Things have to change, from the inside out," Lightfoot said.

Lightfoot said the next CPD leader should be someone who can rebuild trust between police and the people they serve. She said the candidates chosen have a proven track record of their abilities to do so.

The next superintendent, Lightfoot said, needs to come up with a strategy to fight the violence devastating Chicago's neighborhoods and address the proliferation of illegal guns in those neighborhoods.

Lightfoot also said the next top cop must communicate to the rank-and-file and to the public that Chicago police officers will be held accountable for their conduct.

"They won't be successful in fighting crime if they don't engage the community in the ways we talked about," Lightfoot said.

Emanuel has not given a timetable on when he will name the next superintendent, but he has said he wants to make the decision soon.

Community leaders and residents are weighing in on the three possible candidates for Chicago's next top cop.


At Ms. Biscuit on the city's South Side, the food is as hot as the talk about the next police superintendent.

"What are they going to do to make things better for us? As a whole?" said Michael Nelson, a Southeast Side resident.

Nelson - who was dining out with his father on Thursday - reflects what many feel about the police.

"They are the enemies right now, and that's bad. As I was growing up, Officer Friendly used to come to the schools and talk to us. Now, the kids are mad at the officers now, they're angry," Nelson said.

So what can one new hire at the top do?

"From my perspective, nothing. Nothing. Because it's not the police at fault for this. This is the political realities," said Rev. Paul Southerland, Redeeming Ministries.

That sentiment comes on the heels of the Laquan McDonald police shooting, and the protests that followed. Some involved in that movement are pushing for Eugene Williams, a 36-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department.

"If the mayor wants to heal this city as it relates to the police and community relationship, Eugene Williams is the clear choice," community activist Jedidiah Brown said.

Some black aldermen also support Williams, but say whoever gets the job has to be independent of Mayor Emanuel.

"The mayor is going to have to really allow that person to do what he sees fit in order to change that culture," said Ald. Howard Brookins, 21st Ward.

The president of Chicago's Fraternal Order of Police will not endorse a candidate, but understands the connection Williams has to Chicago.

"If you are from inside the agency, then you have that ability and that kind of advantage going forward - but I don't know if that's what the mayor is looking for," said Dean Angelo Sr., Fraternal Order of Police.

But back at Ms. Biscuit, it's clear what people are looking for.

"Integrity is everything to me. Transparency and integrity is everything to me," said Sonja Denton, a South Side resident.

"I hope they can make a difference or stop some of this chaos that's going on," Nelson said.