The shakeup of the Chicago Police Department’s top brass continued Friday, with Supt. Eddie Johnson announcing new commanders for nearly a third of the city’s 25 police districts, just days after replacing several other top deputies.
Johnson announced the promotions in a news release emailed to reporters about 20 minutes after he left a press conference at police headquarters touting the arrest of 100 gang members in two-day sweep.
The moves also were announced the day after Johnson announced a new No. 2 and chief of detectives and stated he will move to fire seven police officers involved in the Laquan McDonald shooting, the scandal that prompted the firing of Johnson’s predecessor, Garry McCarthy, last year.
The chief has announced the results of similar gang roundups almost monthly since taking over the department earlier this year, but took to the podium Friday without the complement of top officers that typically joins him during such press briefings. Johnson made no mention of the wave of promotions at the press conference.
Arrests began before dawn on Thursday and continued for 36 hours, nabbing 100 people on felony counts, Deputy Chief Anthony Riccio said. The arrests were made in 15 of the city’s 22 police districts, Riccio said. The arrests resulted from a six-week investigation, and Riccio said another 105 suspects are targeted for arrest in the next seven to 10 days.
Regarding his management changes, Johnson, in the emailed statement, praised the “new generation” of CPD command staff, a cadre that will owe much to Johnson, who was promoted to the post in March. When Mayor Rahm Emanuel picked Johnson, he passed over three candidates recommended by the Police Board; Johnson had never even applied for the job.
“Making Chicago safer and building strong partnerships with the community begins with effective leaders that understand the unique dynamics of our neighborhoods,” Johnson’s statement reads. “The men and women that make up the next generation of CPD commanders have all exhibited strong commitment, leadership, and a love for this city that will benefit every Chicagoan.”
Johnson also named new commanders in seven police districts: Crystal King-Smith, 2nd District; Varrick Douglas, 5th District; William Bradley, 6th District; Kenneth Johnson, 7th District; Ronald Pontecore, 8th District; James Sanchez, 10th District; Kevin Johnson, 11th District.
On Thursday, Johnson announced several other changes. He promoted Kevin Navarro to be his new No. 2, replacing retiring First Deputy John Escalante, who is leaving for a job at Northeastern Illinois University. He also announced Melissa Staples would replace Eugene Roy as Chief of Detectives, and he picked new bosses to supervise another nine bureaus in the department.
Also on Thursday, Johnson had announced that, based on the recommendation of Inspector General Joseph Ferguson, he would ask the Police Board to fire seven officers who were found to have lied about the shooting of McDonald, the black teen who was shot 16 times in October 2014. Videotape released under court order showed officers’ accounts did not match what actually had occurred that night, and Officer Jason Van Dyke has been charged with McDonald’s murder.
Ferguson’s report — still sealed — recommended the firing of 10 officers. However, Johnson on Friday said two of them have since retired, and he disagreed with the recommendation to fire the 10th.