CHICAGO — Fred Waller will take over the Police Department as interim superintendent when Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson takes office May 15.
Johnson made the announcement Wednesday, though he won’t have the power to install Waller until his inauguration later this month. Waller will replace interim Supt. Eric Carter, who has said he’ll retire the same day Johnson takes office.
Waller served in the Police Department for 34 years, reaching the rank of chief of patrol, before retiring. He’ll return to the agency for the interim role — though he and Johnson said at a news conference Wednesday he’s not interested in applying for the post permanently.
“This is a crucial moment for our city,” Waller said at the news conference. “If there’s one thing that could bring me out of retirement, it was this opportunity to lead and return to the place that I’ve given so much of my life to.
“I understand firsthand the sacrifices that officers make every day to keep our city safe, and I am committed to providing the resources, the direction and the training they need to fulfill the commitment to the people of our city. We must protect the people of Chicago.”
Waller said he’s “old school” — but he’ll lead with “integrity, professionalism and respect.”
Johnson said Waller will be a part of the department’s transition as officials look for a permanent superintendent.
“Chief Waller is the right choice to lead [the Police Department] because his deep commitment to accountability, collaboration and excellence will set the tone for the entire force over this crucial interim period,” Johnson said in a news release. “I look forward to working closely with him to execute a public safety plan that reduces crime and invests in people and communities.”
The city has seen significant shakeups in police leadership since Johnson’s election — and they come at a critical time, as shootings and homicides remain high.
Johnson, who ran as a progressive, said on the campaign trail he’d fire then-Supt. David fire Brown. The day after Johnson won office, Brown announced he’d step down from the role.
Carter has been serving as interim superintendent since Brown’s resignation, though he announced in late April he’d leave the post May 15, the day Johnson will be inaugurated.
Applications are open through May 7 for the permanent police superintendent job. The Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability will sort through applicants and present three finalists to Johnson.
Johnson can pick from the finalists — or choose someone else, as past mayors have done — and nominate a superintendent. The City Council must then confirm that person.
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