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 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 journalism and policy advocacy.

Greising’s career started at the City News Bureau of Chicago, with stops at the Chicago Sun-Times, Business Week magazine, the Chicago Tribune and Reuters. He was a co-founder of the Chicago News Cooperative and worked briefly as a consultant to World Business Chicago. Today, Greising writes on government issues in regular columns for the Tribune and Crain’s Chicago Business.

Under Greising’s leadership, the BGA has played a key role in uncovering public corruption amidst the wide-ranging federal probe, starting with an in-depth report about Ald. Ed Burke’s conflicts of interest before the federal charges against Burke. The BGA also has exposed waste and fraud at O’Hare and the proliferation of corruption and poverty into Dolton, Lyons and other Chicago suburbs. The BGA’s policy team has led calls for ethics reform in Chicago’s City Council and in state government.