Police morale, pressure from aldermen key to Emanuel’s top cop move

by Bill Ruthhart , Jeremy Gorner and John Byrne  |  published on March 28, 2016

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As Mayor Rahm Emanuel evaluated the three finalists for Chicago’s next police superintendent, two key factors emerged — the low morale of the city’s cops amid a significant increase in homicides, and pressure from black and Latino aldermen to hire from within the department.

Both of those dynamics helped lead Emanuel to the man sources said he’ll name as interim superintendent Monday: Eddie Johnson, a well-liked and veteran African-American cop from within the Chicago Police Department’s ranks with a reputation for building community consensus.

For a week, Emanuel considered the slate of candidates his hand-picked Police Board culled for him, and sources close to the administration said the decision came down to either hiring Cedric Alexander, a public safety director in suburban Atlanta, or finding his own alternative.

The mayor chose the latter, approaching Johnson to take over on an interim basis even though the 27-year officer had not applied for the superintendent job, according to several sources familiar with the process. Current interim Superintendent John Escalante applied but was not chosen as a finalist. He is, however, expected to remain in the Police Department’s top brass under Johnson, sources said.

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