Mayor taps ex-Dallas chief to head Chicago police force

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Chicago Sun-Times 2020

Former Dallas Police Chief David Brown, left, speaks to reporters after Mayor Lori Lightfoot, right, nominated him to be Chicago's next police superintendent Thursday, April 2, 2020. (Tyler LaRiviere/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

CHICAGO – Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Thursday named former Dallas police Chief David Brown to head the police force in the nation's third largest city, touting his humility and calling him “a leader who commands respect.”

Lightfoot introduced Brown as the next superintendent of the Chicago Police Department during a news conference, saying he's the right man for the job.

"We are Chicago and we deserve the best. And in this time, this moment, David Brown is the absolute best."

The announcement came hours after Lightfoot announced that a member of the police force had died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. The news conference was tinged with sadness with Lightfoot pointing out that, just as interim Police Superintendent Charlie Beck had to deal with the loss of one of his officers this week, Brown knows the pain of losing a fellow officer.

“Death has come directly to David Brown's doorstep,” said the mayor. Brown lost a former partner and other officers under his command, and even his son and a brother to gun violence.

Brown, who was one of two African Americans named as a finalist, has more than 30 years of experience in law enforcement. The 59-year-old, who retired from the Dallas force in 2016, drew widespread attention that year after five of his officers were killed in an ambush-style rifle attack and he directed officers to kill the suspect using a remote-controlled robot fixed with explosives.

Brown was the only one of the three finalists with experience leading a large police force. Still, it will be an adjustment for him, coming from a department of about 3,500 officers to one with about 13,000.

One of the other finalists was Kristen Ziman, the police chief in the Chicago suburb of Aurora. The third was Ernest Cato, a deputy chief on the Chicago police force. Cato, who is also African American, was only recently promoted to deputy chief by Beck.