Beck made his Chicago debut Friday at City Hall, alongside Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the man he will replace on an interim basis in January, CPD Supt. Eddie Johnson.
Beck took himself out of the running for permanently taking the $260,044-a-year job, telling reporters that he had asked his wife and the “answer was no.”
Beck promised to “stick to his word” and not seek to stay on permanently, but would instead try to make Chicago a safer city.
“This is a great opportunity for me to make a difference in a big city that I think is a beautiful city that has so much opportunity for progress,” Beck said. “I didn’t take this to fill a resume or to make money or any of that. I took this because this is my calling. This is what I do.”
Lightfoot said the permanent superintendent may well be chosen from within the CPD’s ranks.
“We have great talent in our department,” Lightfoot said.
While former Mayor Rahm Emanuel went around the Police Board to tap Johnson to take the reins of the Chicago Police Department in 2015, Lightfoot said she would follow the rules.
Chicago Police Board President Ghian Foreman — who served as the board’s No. 2 when Lightfoot was president — said the nationwide search would begin immediately. The board is charged with selecting three finalists, and submitting them to the mayor to make a final pick.
Lightfoot said Beck was the “perfect interim selection for what Chicago needs at this moment.”
Lightfoot has appointed three members of the nine-member board: Paula Wolff, John P. O’Malley Jr. and Matthew C. Crowl. Wolff and O’Malley were first appointed by Emanuel.
Lightfoot cast Beck as a leader in the mold of Johnson — a patrol officer who rose to the highest rank after decades of service. Beck, who became a police officer in 1977, became LAPD chief in in 2009 and retired in June 2018.
“This department can be the change,” Beck said. “This department can be the glue that binds the city together, and not the powder that tears it apart.”
Beck called Johnson a friend several times during the half-hour news conference, and said he would continue his legacy and rely on his expertise.
Johnson returned the compliment, lauding Beck as a standup law enforcement officer.
Ald. Carlos Ramirez Rosa (35) tweeted that Beck assured aldermen he would not apply for the permanent job. Ramirez Rosa said he would not support Beck as a permanent chief, citing his record in Los Angeles.
Lightfoot vowed to pick “the best person for the foreseeable future,” Lightfoot said in an interview with the Sun-Times Friday.
The next superintendent of the Chicago Police Department must have experience running a “big and complicated” organization who can “motivate the troops” and “understands the value of constitutional policing.”