In a surprise move, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has rejected the three chosen finalists for Chicago’s next police superintendent, the mayor’s office confirmed Sunday.
“While each of the finalists had strong qualifications, the mayor did not feel that any of them were the complete package that Chicago needs at this time and thus none were offered the position,” Emanuel’s spokesperson Kelley Quinn said in a statement. “The Mayor called each of them individually late Saturday to let them know of his decision.”
Emanuel has asked Eddie Johnson, the Chicago Police Department’s chief of patrol, to fill the role, sources told NBC 5’s Mary Ann Ahern.
Sources say Chicago aldermen were notified Saturday night of the choice by the mayor’s staff, who told them that Johnson will temporarily be named Interim Superintendent, replacing John Escalante. Escalante will return to his previous position as Deputy Superintendent, sources told NBC 5.
The unprecedented move is to comply with the legal requirement that the mayor select a superintendent from finalists chosen by the Police Board. Emanuel plans to appoint Johnson as the Interim Superintendent, then reject the three finalists and ask the Police Board to conduct a new search, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
At that point, Johnson will apply for the position. Emanuel’s choice must be approved by the City Council.
“The Police Board has not received formal communication from the Mayor regarding the three nominees it submitted for the position of Superintendent of Police, ” Police Board President Lori Lightfoot said in a statement Sunday. “The Board will be taking no action until it receives such notification.”
The Chicago Police Department did not confirm the change of plans in the selection process to replace interim Police Superintendent Escalante. An announcement is expected to be made Monday.
Prior to Saturday, the three finalists selected by the Chicago Police Board were: Dr. Cedric Alexander, the current Director of Public Safety in Dekalb County, Georgia; Anne Kirkpatrick, the former Chief of Police in Spokane, Washington; and Eugene Williams, the Chief of Support Services in Chicago, and the only current Chicago officer who initially made the cut.
The suprising choice of Johnson to fill the position comes after the Chicago City Council Black Caucus said it wanted to interview candidates prior to the final decision.
“We want to hear from all candidates right now, before a decision is made,” Ald. Roderick Sawyer said Thursday. “We believe a local police veteran who understands the African American experience in Chicago would be the best able to restore justice and safety in our city.”
A total of 38 individuals applied for the job after Emanuel fired Former Superintendent Garry McCarthy in December of last year. His ousting came in the wake of the controversial shooting of African-American teen Laquan McDonald.
McDonald was shot and killed by caucasian Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke in October of 2014. Van Dyke was charged with McDonald’s murder after a judge forced Emanuel to release police dash-cam footage of the incident.
“The city of Chicago is eager to get going,” Emanuel said in a press conference on March 18. “The Police Department is eager to get going. There are people of the city of Chicago eager to have a superintendent and their leadership team in place so we can move toward reducing gun violence and gang violence.”
Emanuel said that race will play a role in his decision, noting that “in the sense of building trust and cooperation, it’s something obviously you have to look at.”
Interim Superintendent Escalante was not included on the shortlist provided to the mayor.