Mayor Rahm Emanuel rejected the Chicago police board’s three finalists for superintendent to select Eddie Johnson as the city’s new interim top cop – though he never applied for the position – sparking protests from city leaders and residents over his autocratic style.
Johnson, who is Black, has served on the force for 27 years, spending much of that time in the city’s high crime areas on the South and West sides.
Emanuel announced his decision Monday after speaking with community leaders and residents, subsequently circumventing the CPD superintendent selection process and sparking the anger of many in the Windy City.
During Thursday’s edition of NewsOne Now, Alderman Pat Dowell from Chicago’s 3rd Ward spoke with Roland Martin about Jackson’s selection and Mayor Emanuel bypassing the police board to appoint the veteran police officer as top cop.
Alderman Dowell told Martin previous CPD superintendents from outside of Chicago “were not up to the challenge” of being the head of the Chicago Police Department. She added selecting Johnson to be the next superintendent is a “good move by the mayor.”
“Eddie Johnson, at this time, seems to be the right person to lead the department into the future,” said Dowell.
When questioned why Mayor Emanuel bypassed the normal selection process, Alderman Dowell said, “The mayor is the mayor, he has the right to make his selection.” She continued, “This is not unprecedented. Mayor (Richard) Daley did the same thing.” After conducting a search for a police superintendent, Mayor Daley selected Jody Weis.
Now that Johnson has been selected, Alderman Dowell explained the City Council of Chicago – who will also be “held accountable for this selection” – should take Johnson through a “very robust committee hearing process to get all the answers that the people in the community are asking about to reduce violence, to reduce shootings, to reduce homicides, to look at deployment of officers, to look at staffing levels.”
After Martin’s discussion with Alderman Dowell, the NewsOne Now panel weighed in on Mayor Emanuel’s decision to bypass the police board and select Johnson.
NewsOne Now panelist Laura Coates told Martin that Mayor Emanuel “missed the point” as it relates to appointing Johnson police chief. She continued, “There is a mistrust, a fundamental mistrust that has been very earned by the police in Chicago, and its elected officials and Rahm Emanuel are part of that mistrust.”
Martin later reminded viewers of a law that calls for a second search to be performed if the first search for a superintendent does not yield results. With Emanuel circumventing that process, he is essentially breaking the law. Martin said, “You are required by the ordinance to have a second search.”
Hispanic Caucus Chairman George Cardenas backed Emanuel’s move to bypass the Chicago Police Board and not conduct a second search. The Chicago Sun-Times quoted him as saying:
“We need to forgo the whole search process. What’s the point? We don’t need to hoodwink anybody. The vote would have to be two-thirds of the Council. But let’s give the mayor flexibility to make his pick without having to do another new search. It saves time and money, and we dispense with the niceties. We have to get down to fixing the violence.”
Watch Roland Martin, Alderman Pat Dowell, and the NewsOne Now panel discuss the selection of Eddie Johnson as the interim police superintendent in the video clip above.
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