“Even though I came to Chicago without knowing virtually anybody that was in the Chicago Police Department, I leave feeling very much connected to them and very much part of the CPD family,” Beck said before leaving to catch a flight back to California.
For many, it was a bittersweet moment.
Charlie Beck — the now-former interim superintendent of the Chicago Police Department — handed the reins to David Brown Wednesday, completing his five-month stint of leading the second-largest police department in the country.
“Obviously, I cannot wait to go home to my family, who I miss very much,” Beck said during his final news conference at CPD headquarters in Bronzeville. “But I’m also leaving family behind. Even though I came to Chicago without knowing virtually anybody that was in the Chicago Police Department, I leave feeling very much connected to them and very much part of the CPD family.”
Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who called on Beck to lead the department late last year, was effusive in her praise.
“There’s simply not enough words for me to express what I personally feel about Charlie Beck’s contributions to Chicago, only that we owe him a debt of gratitude for his incredible service,” Lightfoot said. “Now it may be my last time calling you by this title, but let me just say this: Superintendent, we love you.”
As part of his send-off, Beck was given a certificate of appreciation and a ceremonial police baton. Soon after, Beck handed off the superintendent’s badge to his successor, Brown, the former Dallas police chief.
“The policing mind of Charlie Beck is deep, it’s wide and it’s quick,” Brown said. “And I want to assure that what he’s begun to set in place, in motion, in Chicago flourishes and reaches its full potential.
The City Council’s Public Safety Committee is expected to hold Brown’s confirmation hearing Monday and his appointment will be put before the full council for a vote two days later.
After the news conference, Beck headed straight to O’Hare Airport to catch a flight back to California.
Beck — who spent 40 years with the Los Angeles Police Department, the final nine as chief — arrived in Chicago five months ago. He was to take over for former Supt. Eddie Johnson, who planned on retiring from the department at the end of 2019.
Those plans, though, soon went up in smoke.
In early December, Lightfoot moved to fire Johnson, who’d been with the CPD for 31 years.
The mayor said Johnson “intentionally misled the people of Chicago and he intentionally misled me” about an embarrassing drinking-and-driving episode that occurred near Johnson’s Bridgeport home two months earlier.
During Beck’s time in Chicago, Lightfoot said, she’s come to know him as “a unique and gifted leader who by his mere presence makes us feel safer.”
And though his tenure atop the CPD was brief, Beck was no less busy.
Beck said from the outset that he wouldn’t take the permanent superintendent job even if was offered. That afforded him freedom to make sweeping decisions without having to walk on eggshells.
“I think that there’s a number of things that will benefit Chicago and the Chicago Police Department that can get done by an interim that would be a heavier lift for a full-time” superintendent, Beck told the Chicago Sun-Times last December.
Beck has confidence in the longevity of the moves he’s made, too.
“I hope that the changes that I made survive time,” he said last week. “I’m confident that they will, or I wouldn’t have made them. And I hope that they bring Chicago the police department that it deserves.”