Three high-level civilian employees have been hired to oversee reform, strategy and finance for the Chicago Police Department in a continuing shake-up ordered by Supt. Eddie Johnson.
Maurice Classen, a former Seattle prosecutor now serving as a program officer on criminal justice issues for the MacArthur Foundation, will fill the newly-created, $140,000-a-year job of director of strategy. In that role, he will implement a strategic plan for the police department for the next three-to-five years.
Classen was a member of the Task Force on Police Accountability that served as a blistering prelude to the U.S. Justice Department’s scathing indictment of the Chicago Police Department after a year-long investigation triggered by the police shooting of Laquan McDonald.
Christina Anderson, an associate principal at the Civic Consulting Alliance, will become the police department’s $140,000-a-year director of reform management.
The newly-created position is charged with making certain that reforms Johnson and his top deputies have promised are delivered by specific deadlines — even in the absence of a consent decree still being negotiated by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and retiring Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.
And Susie Park, a budget liaison to the police department who currently works at City Hall, will become CPD’s deputy chief of finance. That’s a $148,000-a-year vacancy created by a recent retirement.
In a telephone interview Monday, Johnson acknowledged that the hiring of Classen and Anderson was a break from the past for the police department.
“For a long time, CPD and law enforcement probably all over the country, never really embraced civilian experts in terms of doing things of this nature. What we’re good at is fighting crime and locking up bad guys. What we’re not good at is long-term strategies in terms of the direction that the organization may go,” the superintendent said.
“We made a commitment to change the way CPD does business and to put these reforms into place. We weren’t just saying we were going to do it. We’re actually going to do it. So this is just another mechanism for us to ensure that we’re basically policing ourselves. I need the sworn personnel to focus on the crime fight. For so long , what law enforcement would do is pick a police officer and say, ‘You’re in charge of this’ with little or no expertise.”
Johnson openly acknowledged that cops don’t trust civilians and, as a result, there might be resentment to three new bosses.
That’s particularly true of Classen, given his role on the Task Force on Police Accountability that portrayed the Chicago Police Department as racist and was promptly denounced as “biased” by the Fraternal Order of Police.
“I’m sure there’ll be some resentment. But if we want to be successful, we need expertise in certain areas. So, we’re bringing in experts,” the superintendent said.
Pressed on whether Classen’s role on the task force would trigger even more resentment from the rank-and-file, Johnson said, “It may. But that’s just something we’ll have to deal with if it comes to pass. I don’t really concern myself about things that might pop up because you tend to worry about things that never occur. But if it does occur, we’ll deal with it then.”
The superintendent noted that police officers were the “main people that gave the recommendations and criticisms to the task force and to the DOJ.”
Johnson insisted that the selections were his alone — not foisted upon him by either the mayor’s office or Police Board President Lori Lightfoot, who worked closely with Classen.
“That kind of thought process is actually comical to me. It is. That’s funny to me that people have that notion of how this thing goes,” Johnson said.
“Nobody else got involved. I have a staff here that I trust immensely. I confer with them about different ideas or thoughts that I have. Other than that, that’s it.”