Greising: CPD’s Charlie Beck May Be ‘Interim’ Top Cop, But His Impact Will Be Lasting

Lightfoot wanted a change-maker. She got one. And the changes Beck is making will set the Chicago Police Department in a new direction that is long overdue.

Interim Chicago police Superintendent Charlie Beck (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

BGA President David Greising writes every other week for the Chicago Tribune Opinion section.

Charlie Beck has told anyone who will listen that he or she shouldn’t expect him to be a caretaker police chief.

Beck is in charge of the Chicago Police Department only on an interim basis. The former Los Angeles police chief is not considered a candidate for appointment to the job as Chicago’s police superintendent.

Yet on Jan. 30, two months after taking over as successor to Eddie Johnson, who was fired, Beck put a lasting stamp on the CPD. 

In step one, Beck restructured the CPD’s command structure. In step two, he hand-selected the people who would fill the department’s leadership ranks.

If this sounds like a lot of action by a newcomer and part-timer, it is. But given CPD’s track record, one of racial bias and rogue policing that has made it answerable to a federal consent decree, there was little reason to stand by the status quo.

Besides, Mayor Lori Lightfoot did not appoint Beck to stand pat.

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