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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David Greising

David Greising is the president and chief executive of the Better Government Association, joining the BGA in 2018. For nearly a century, the BGA has fought for honest and effective government through investigative...