Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown quietly resigned Thursday, three years after being tapped to lead the police department.
First Deputy Superintendent Eric Carter, Brown’s second in command, will take over as interim superintendent, according to a news release from the department.
“We will continue the progress made under Superintendent Brown’s leadership to build trust in our communities and strengthen safety in all neighborhoods,” Carter said.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot called Brown a “humble leader” when he arrived in Chicago in April 2020, seeking to reduce crime and make the department more transparent and accountable after serving as Dallas police chief. But his aspirations were quickly complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the civil unrest that followed the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.
[ ‘The hardest position to fill’: Finding a new Chicago police superintendent amid mayoral transition and crime uptick may be no easy feat ]
Under his leadership, the city has seen a sharp increase in gun violence, and the department has made slow progress on court-sanctioned reforms as it grapples with the pandemic and protests.
A month after leaving the job, Brown made it his goal to get Chicago under 300 homicides a year. The number of homicides rose from 498 in 2020 to 797 in 2021, then to 695 in 2022, according to city data.
Some critics have blasted Brown’s department as insufficiently ready for reform, pointing in particular to Brown’s decision to fire Robert Boyk, the CPD official leading the department’s efforts to reform the enforcement of the consent decree.
Other critics blame Brown for declining officer morale and thousands of police vacancies, caused in part by a wave of officer retirements. They argue that Brown’s scheduling policies have overburdened officers.
Brown announced his plans to step down in early March, the day after Lightfoot lost the mayoral race. He serves 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 seizing a record number of illegal guns.
Brown declined to talk about his accomplishments and the criticism he has faced in a telephone conversation with the Tribune on Thursday.
He spoke at the funeral of slain officer Andres Mauricio Vasquez Laso last week, but did not attend a police graduation ceremony earlier this week. Brown reportedly left Chicago on Wednesday amid little fanfare within the department.
[ Chicago police Superintendent David Brown to exit CPD this month in the wake of mayoral election ]
Carter, a 30-year veteran of the department, has served in a variety of patrol and investigative roles, including stints in gang and narcotics, according to a department news release. He headed the counterterrorism and special operations bureau before serving as Brown’s second-in-command for most of the outgoing superintendent’s tenure.
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The interim superintendent appointed by Lightfoot will oversee the department’s 11,700 sworn members during the summer months, when violent crime typically rises in Chicago.
The next superintendent will be chosen based on the winner of the April 4 mayoral runoff between former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Wallace and Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson. Candidates offer a contrasting perspective on policingbut both made it clear they would prefer a local candidate to lead the department.
The candidates said they would fire Brown before he announced his resignation. They declined to name potential leaders who may be on their list of police chiefs during a recent debate.
Choosing a new boss from a department can be a challenge. Many from the department of top executives left forces over the past few years.
Anyone holds the position of manager will contend with a federal consent decree, pressing calls for accountability, rising violent crime, morale and staffing issues, and a new mayor with their own vision for what changes the department needs to make.