May 30, 2020

City’s new top cop is former Dallas police Supt. David Brown, mayor says

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CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Thursday her choice for the city’s newest top cop.

At press conference, Lightfoot announced that former Dallas police chief David Brown will be replacing interim police Supt. Charlie Beck who took over for former Supt. Eddie Johnson.

Brown was one of three finalists, which were announced Wednesday. The other two finalists are Chicago Police Deputy Chief Ernest Cato and Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman.

The mayor said Brown will work to create a culture rooted in transparency and accountability. While the Chicago Police Board announced three top finalists the final choice was up to the mayor. She said she made the decision with the safety of Chicago residents in mind.

The new superintendent will be tasked with trying to reduce gun violence, make sure the police department keeps up with its federally mandated consent decree and adapt to the current crisis caused by COVID-19. 

Experts had encouraged her to pick a leader that isn’t afraid to break away from past practices that have put the department in a negative light. The next top cop also has to deal with a new union contact. On Thursday, Lightfoot said Brown is that man. 

Brown has 40 years in law enforcement and he’s known for building trust, and advocating for the wellbeing of his officers, focusing on their mental health. 

He made national news in 2016 when he decided to use a remote control robot carrying an explosive to kill a man who shot and killed five police officers. 

The new superintendent grew up poor, in the segregated south and his life has been tragic. His son was killed in a police shoot out. His partner died in the line of duty. He was police chief when five of his officers were killed in an ambush. 

On Thursday Lightfoot said you can tell a person’s character during tragedy — and Brown’s character is outstanding.

“In my time with him I’ve come to admire his intellect experience and determination but I also appreciate his humility,” Lightfoot said.

The mayor got choked up Thursday talking about Beck. She thanked him for his service and called him a gifted leader, a cop’s cop. 

Beck called his appointment the honor of a lifetime and said Brown’s leadership will be historic.

The Rev. Michael Pfleger said he thinks Brown is a good choice.

“I love him,” he said in a statement. “I think it’s a good choice, I think he’s got tremendous experience and background. I think he’s got a good track record in Dallas and strong roots. Knowing a little bit about his history…I’ve been impressed with him.”

Brown is expected to be confirmed by the City Council sometime in April.