The City Council’s Black Caucus said the city’s next police superintendent should be an African American who knows the city and police department “inside and out, top to bottom,” and has the respect of the rank and file.

But the group stopped short of a full-throated endorsement of Eugene Williams, who fits that bill and is on the mayor’s short list to fill the superintendent slot, because they want the City Council, not just the Mayor, to have an opportunity to vet all the finalists. “We want to hear about all candidates right now before the decision is made,” Caucus Chairman Roderick Sawyer (6) said.

“The previous police chief was a total outsider without working knowledge of the people, the policies, and prevailing practices and traditions. His leadership style was not consultive, but unilateral,” Sawyer told reporters at a press conference at City Hall. He said two outsiders who previously ran the department didn’t successfully break down “the blue wall”. Many black aldermen called for Supt. Garry McCarthy’s ouster during budget hearings and in the wake of the Laquan McDonald video release. 

So, Eugene Williams?

Sawyer said first, the caucus wants a chance to publicly vet Williams and the other two candidates, Cedric Alexander and Anne Kirkpatrick, in a Public Safety committee meeting. Without that hearing, the group said, they may stall. “We may either not vote or we’re going to have an awfully long hearing that particular day.” Though after the press conference, Ald. Carrie Austin (34) said she’d told Mayor Emanuel she preferred Williams. 

“I would not go against it, I think the City Council should be able to vet the candidates before us,” Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30), told Aldertrack. But he also said that any call for a hearing would have to be introduced as a resolution, which could delay the selection of a finalist further.

The Latino Caucus, of which Reboyras is a member, criticized the superintendent picks the Police Board put forward last week, saying current Interim Superintendent John Escalante should be considered. They also said it was “insulting” a Latino candidate didn’t make the short list.