CHICAGO (CBSLA/AP) – Retired Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck was named Friday the interim superintendent of the Chicago Police Department.
The 66-year-old Beck will serve as the interim superintendent while Chicago city officials search for a full-time replacement.
This comes after Superintendent Eddie Johnson announced Thursday he is retiring after three turbulent years as the head of the department.
“Through his renowned transformational community policing, Chief Beck has proven to be a singular leader with the strength and vision to help lay the foundation for the changes our city needs as we move forward into the next era of the Chicago Police Department,” Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot said in a statement.
Beck spent 41 years in the LAPD and served as its chief from 2009 until his retirement in June of 2018.
“Beck is the ideal person to shepherd the Chicago Police Department through this next period,” Beck’s successor, current LAPD Chief Michel Moore, said in a statement. “His vast experience with police reform, strategic approaches in reducing violent crime, and ability to guide and inspire rank and file police officers will be invaluable as the Chicago Police Department searches for a permanent superintendent.”
Beck comes to a city that often makes headlines for shootings and homicides, although those crimes have dropped since Johnson took over in 2016. Beck takes over a department that has dramatically expended the use of high-tech crime-fighting technology and implemented the largest rollout of police body cameras in the United States.
In Chicago, Beck will be a newcomer running a department where the rank-and-file has had rocky relationships with outsiders. Jody Weis, hired by then-Mayor Richard M. Daley after a long career with the FBI, was not a popular superintendent and then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s choice, Garry McCarthy was even less popular with the force than Weis.
Beck’s appointment marks at least the second time Lightfoot has turned to Los Angeles to fill a key position. Previously, she named Susan Lee as the city’s deputy mayor for public safety in the hopes that she could help reduce the gang violence that continues to plague the city.
In 2016, Johnson inherited a department that was in the midst of what seemed like a running gun battle on the streets as rival gangs and drug dealers shot it out for control of the streets. By the end of his first year on the job, the city saw thousands of shooting incidents, the number of dead totaled nearly 800 — or 300 more than just the year before.
The next year things improved, but the street warfare had become a national media story and even the reports that the number of homicides had dropped to 664 all seemed to include the reminder that the number was higher than the combined total of homicides of New York and Los Angeles.
Johnson, a native Chicagoan, held just about every rank in his more than three decades career on the force.
“These stars can sometimes feel like you’re carrying the weight of the world,” said Johnson Thursday, whose uniform includes four stars on each shoulder. “This job has taken its toll, taken a toll on my health, my family, my friends.”
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)