Both the Chicago Police Chief and the U.S. Attorney General for the Northern District of Illinois announced their resignations Wednesday, just hours after Lightfoot’s re-election loss was announced. Police Superintendent David Brown had assumed his position in April 2020. Both of Lightfoot’s opponents, Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson, who will advance to the mayoral runoff, have said they would replace Brown if elected. Chicago’s violent crime will be a highly contested topic in the April runoff, and many claim it to be Lightfoot’s downfall. Vallas, who focused his campaign heavily on Chicago crime, criticized Brown for his failure to make the city safer and called his resignation “a positive step forward” in a statement Wednesday.
By Grace Hauck; March 1, 2023
CHICAGO – The head of the Chicago Police Department and the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois announced their resignations Wednesday, hours after Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot lost her bid for reelection.
Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown is resigning effective March 16, Lightfoot said in a statement. He turns 63 in October of this year – the mandatory retirement age for Chicago police officers.
John Lausch Jr., head of the U.S. Attorney’s office in Chicago, is resigning effective March 11, his office said in a statement. Appointed by former President Donald Trump, Lausch oversaw an initial review of President Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents and had previously indicated his intention to leave the office.
Official news of the departures comes after Lightfoot failed to win enough votes in Tuesday’s mayoral election to advance to an April runoff. None of the nine candidates won a majority in the officially nonpartisan election.
Paul Vallas, 69, the former head of Chicago Public Schools, and Brandon Johnson, 46, on the Cook County Board of Commissioners, came out as the top two vote-getters. Both have said they would replace Brown if elected.
Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown resigns
Brown informed Lightfoot of the decision on Wednesday, Lightfoot said. He took over as head of the nation’s second-largest municipal police department in April of 2020, overseeing the agency amid rising crime at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and protests in the wake of the murder of George Floyd.
First Deputy Eric Carter will be appointed as interim superintendent until the new mayor is sworn into office, Lightfoot said. She called on the city’s newly formed civilian police oversight body – the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability – to immediately begin the search for a new superintendent.
In a statement, Lightfoot applauded Brown for setting a record number of illegal gun recoveries for two years, leading a double-digit reduction in violent crime in 2022, standing up a full-time recruitment team that yielded over 950 new hires, expanding resources for officer wellness and promoting more women to senior ranks.
“I personally want to thank him for his service to our city,” Lightfoot said.
In a statement, Brown said he accepted a job as Chief Operating Officer of Loncar Lyon Jenkins, a personal injury law firm with seven offices in Texas. He said he’s stepping down “so the incoming mayor can begin the process as soon as possible to hire the next Superintendent.”
“It has been an honor and a privilege to work alongside the brave men and women of the Chicago Police Department,” Brown said. “I will continue to pray that all officers return home to their families safe at the end of their shift. May the Good Lord bless the city of Chicago and the men and women who serve and protect this great city.”
The Chicago Police Department has about 12,000 sworn officers and has long been plagued by scandals. A Justice Department report released in 2017 found the CPD is beset by widespread racial bias, excessive use of force, poor training and feckless oversight of officers accused of misconduct.
The department and city since 2019 have been under a federal consent decree, a court-approved settlement that requires the department to reform training, policies and practices in a number of areas.
John Lausch, U.S. Attorney in Chicago, resigns
Lausch formally announced his departure moments after news of Brown’s resignation late Wednesday. He’s served in the role since late 2017.
During his tenure, Lausch focused on prosecuting in the areas of violent crime, public corruption, national security, financial fraud and drug trafficking. He spearheaded the office through the COVID-19 pandemic and oversaw criminal charges against numerous people for allegedly using the crisis to commit fraud.
He also oversaw multiple racketeering prosecutions of members of organized criminal street gangs and gang factions, as well as of illegal gun offenders, and launched a Gun Crimes Prosecution Team and a Gun Trafficking Strike Force.
“It has been the privilege of a lifetime to lead the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago,” Lausch said.
First Assistant U.S. Attorney Morris “Sonny” Pasqual will assume the position on an acting basis, the office said in a statement.
What the Chicago mayoral candidates are saying
In a statement, mayoral candidate Brandon Johnson said: “The next superintendent of the Chicago Police Department must be as fully committed to the health and safety of all Chicagoans as I am, and to immediately meeting all requirements of the federal consent decree while addressing the root causes of crime.”
“As mayor, my preference will be to appoint someone from within the current ranks of the Department, but most important is appointing the right person for the job – someone who is collaborative, competent and compassionate, and who truly cares about protecting and serving the people of our city,” Johnson said.
Photo: Pat Nabong/Sun-Times