Chicago police Superintendent David Brown officially steps down, first deputy takes over as interim boss – Chicago Tribune

Chicago police Superintendent David Brown quietly stepped down Thursday, three years after he was picked to lead the Police Department.

First Deputy Superintendent Eric Carter, Brown’s second in command, will take over as interim superintendent, the department said in a news release.

“We will continue the progress we made under the leadership of Superintendent Brown to build trust in our communities and strengthen safety across every neighborhood,” Carter said.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot called Brown a “humble leader” as he came to Chicago in April 2020 seeking to reduce crime and make the department more transparent and accountable after working as police chief in Dallas. But his aspirations were quickly complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the civil unrest that followed the police murder of George Floyd in Minnesota.

Gun violence sharply increased in the city under his leadership and the department was slow to make progress on court-mandated reforms as it struggled to navigate the pandemic and protests.

A month into the job, Brown called getting Chicago to under 300 annual homicides a “moonshot” goal. Homicides rose from 498 in 2020 to 797 in 2021, then 695 in 2022, according to city data.

Some critics have denounced Brown’s department as insufficiently willing to reform, pointing in particular to Brown’s decision to fire Robert Boik, the CPD official leading the department’s reform efforts to comply with the consent decree.

Other critics have blamed Brown for declining officer morale and thousands of police vacancies caused in part by a wave of officer retirements. They argue Brown’s scheduling policies overburdened officers.

Brown announced his plans to resign in early March, the day after Lightfoot lost her mayoral reelection bid. He is taking a position as chief operating officer at a personal injury law firm, he said at the time.

Lightfoot, who hired Brown after firing former Superintendent Eddie Johnson amid scandal, praised Brown for promoting more women and for the department’s record numbers of illegal gun recoveries.

Brown declined to talk about his accomplishments and the criticism he has faced in a phone call with the Tribune on Thursday.

He spoke last week at the funeral of slain Officer Andrés Mauricio Vásquez Lasso, but did not attend a police graduation ceremony earlier that week. Brown reportedly left Chicago on Wednesday to little fanfare within the department.

Chicago police Superintendent David Brown, right, marches with First Deputy Superintendent Eric Carter on May 1, 2022, at the Gold Star Families Memorial and Park outside Soldier Field.

Carter, a 30-year department veteran, has worked in various patrol and investigation positions, including periods focusing on gangs and narcotics, the department’s news release said. He led the counterterrorism and special operations bureau before serving as Brown’s second-in-command for nearly all of the outgoing superintendent’s tenure.

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The interim superintendent appointed by Lightfoot will lead the department’s 11,700 sworn members into the summer months, when violent crime typically spikes in Chicago.

The next superintendent will be chosen in large part by the winner of the April 4 mayoral runoff election between former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas and Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson. The candidates offer contrasting takes on policing, but both have signaled they would prefer a local nominee to lead the department.

The candidates had said they would fire Brown before he announced his resignation. They declined to name the prospective leaders who might be on their police superintendent shortlist in a recent debate.

Choosing a new superintendent from within the department could pose a challenge. Many of the department’s top leaders have left the force in the past few years.

Whoever takes over as superintendent will contend with a federal consent decree, strong calls for accountability, a rise in violent crime, challenges with morale and staffing and a new mayor with their own vision for what changes the department needs to take.

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