Charlie Beck
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. Photo by John Schreiber

Former Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck has been appointed interim superintendent of the Chicago Police Department.

The 66-year-old Long Beach-born Beck will serve as interim superintendent following Eddie Johnson’s retirement and during the Police Board’s nationwide search for a permanent superintendent, which officially began Friday — the same day Beck’s appointment was announced..

“Chief Beck has a well-deserved national reputation for leading the reform era of the Los Angeles Police Department that was rooted in the principles of transparency, accountability, and community partnership,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in making the appointment.

“That strategy led to historic results in crime reduction citywide. Through his renowned transformational community policing, Chief Beck has proven to be a singular leader with the strength and vision to help lay the foundation for the changes our city needs as we move forward into the next era of the Chicago Police Department.”

Beck joined the Los Angeles Police Department in 1977 and rose through the ranks as a police officer, sergeant, lieutenant and commander over 41 years, including becoming chief of detectives.

As police chief from 2009-18, Beck oversaw the implementation of nationally recognized reforms and community policing initiatives that not only brought the LAPD into compliance with a federal consent decree after 12 years, but also resulted in historically low crime rates across the city, according to a statement from Lightfoot’s office.

Johnson, 59, was appointed Chicago police superintendent in April 2016 but had experienced health issues in recent years, including a kidney transplant in 2017. He joined the 13,400-officer department in 1988.

“For the last several years, Chicago and Los Angeles have been partner cities in developing and implementing proven strategies to safeguard our communities and build community trust,” Beck said.

“Over that time, I got to know Superintendent Johnson and we’ve become very good friends and colleagues. I am truly privileged for the opportunity to now serve as interim superintendent of the Chicago Police Department and build upon the incredible work done by Superintendent Johnson and the dedicated police officers in Chicago.”

As LAPD chief, Beck barred officers from making arrests based solely on immigration status and ensured the department did not cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement on any immigration enforcement activities.

“While the patch on his sleeve may have differed from ours, Chief Beck brings more than 40 years of major city policing leadership to Chicago, and through his leadership and steady hands, he’ll maintain the momentum and lay the foundation for the next superintendent of Chicago’s finest,” Johnson said.

“Chief Beck is not only a good friend of mine but he’s also been a mentor for me during the department’s most tumultuous times, and I have full confidence he will build on the reforms underway today to create a better police department for tomorrow.”

Beck and Johnson will meet with Chicago’s police officers, community leaders, clergy, aldermen and advocates over the coming weeks to hear the concerns and priorities of Chicago’s residents.

Beck’s successor as LAPD chief, Michel Moore, told the Los Angeles Times Beck “is the ideal person to shepherd the Chicago Police Department through this next period.”

“His vast experience with police reform, strategic approaches in reducing violent crime and ability to guide and inspire rank-and-file police officers will be invaluable as the Chicago Police Department searches for a permanent superintendent,” Moore said.

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