CHICAGO — Former Dallas Police Chief David Brown will be Chicago’s next police superintendent, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Thursday.
Calling Brown the “absolute best,” Lightfoot announced her pick for top cop Thursday afternoon, on the same day that the department announced one of their own had died from coronavirus.
Brown, a 40-year cop who led the Dallas Police Department from 2010-2016, was chosen from a field of finalists that included Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman and Chicago Police Deputy Chief Ernest Cato.
Brown was chief of the department during the 2016 shooting that killed five Dallas officers, and wounded nine officers and two civilians. It was the most officers that have been killed in a single incident since 9/11.
In the incident, Brown made the decision to use an explosive devise delivered by a robot to kill the heavily-armed shooter, ending the crisis.
“I know well that a person’s true character comes through in crisis,” Lightfoot said.
Under Brown’s watch, Dallas crime fell to 50-year lows as he led the department through “wholesale reform,” Lightfoot said. As chief, Brown reduced the use of force and equipped officers with body cameras, increasing transparency, according to the New York Times.
“Chief Brown led his city to becomes the first in the nation to implement department-wide de-escelation training,” the mayor said.
A Dallas native who grew up poor in the segregated South, Brown experienced the tense relations between police and his community firsthand growing up, Lightfoot said.
“In this time, in this moment … the city needs this humble leader,” Lightfoot said. “I am totally committed to his success.”
Brown, who has also served as an assistant city manager, is a leader who has experienced “triumph and tragedy” — at times in the same moments, he said. In 2010, Brown’s son, David Brown Jr., shot and killed a police officer and a young father before he was gunned down. In 1991, Brown’s brother, Kelvin Brown, was killed by drug dealers.
Brown said said he was “deeply honored and humbled” by Lightfoot’s nomination.
“I am incredibly proud to be able to serve the city of Chicago, Chi-Town, the Windy City,” Brown said, drawing comparisons between the two cities. “Frankly, Chicago is a lot like my hometown of Dallas — strong, proud and tough. Not to mention the great barbecue,” he said.
Rocked by the shooting 2015 shooting of LaQuan McDonald, a black teen shot dead by a white Chicago Police officer, Chicago needs “strong leadership,” Brown said.
“To all of the great residents of the city, I’d say: David Brown, reporting for duty, at your service,” Brown said.
When asked why he wanted to lead the Chicago department, he said, “Are you kidding me? The city that produced Michelle Obama and elected Mayor Lightfoot. I volunteer. Sign me up.”
Brown will take over for interim Police Supt. Charlie Beck, who formerly led the Los Angeles Police Department. Beck replaced former Supt. Eddie Johnson, who was fired amid scandal.
Beck called Brown’s selection “historic” for the department.
“He will make the city much better than it is today,” Beck said.
City Council will consider Brown’s nomination for the top cop job in April.
Johnson announced in early November he planned to retire. In December, Lightfoot instead fired him, saying he lied to her about an October incident where he was found asleep in his car.
After the incident, Lightfoot said Johnson, who had suffered health problems, had told her he’d had a few drinks at dinner. The incident was put under investigation by the inspector general’s office.
Video evidence revealed later showed Johnson spent hours drinking at Ceres Cafe with a subordinate on the night in question.