CHICAGO — David Brown, the embattled superintendent of the Chicago Police Department, has resigned from the department after nearly three years, according to Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office. His last day will be March 16.
Brown’s resignation came less than 24 hours after Lightfoot, who selected Brown to lead the CPD in April 2020, lost her bid for reelection.
“I accepted his resignation and want to commend him for his accomplishments not just for the department but the entire city,” Lightfoot said in a statement.
First Deputy Supt. Eric Carter, who has held the CPD’s No. 2 post throughout Brown’s tenure, will lead the CPD until the next mayor is sworn in. Brown’s departure comes shortly after that of CPD Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan.
In an email sent to CPD employees Wednesday afternoon, Brown said he had accepted the job of Chief Operating Officer at Loncar Lyon Jenkins, a personal injury law firm with seven offices in Texas, Brown’s home state.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to work alongside the brave men and women of the Chicago Police Department,” Brown wrote. “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.”
Before joining the CPD, Brown led the police department in Dallas, his hometown. He arrived in Chicago as the COVID-19 pandemic was in its infancy, and the CPD grappled with a summer of civil unrest, a spike in violent crime — especially murders and carjackings — as well as plummeting morale among the CPD’s rank-and-file officers throughout his time leading the department.
John Catanzara, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police, the union that represents rank-and-file CPD officers, has frequently been at odds with Brown since his arrival in Chicago.
Catanzara said that Brown lost the confidence of CPD officers just two months into his tenure when, during a period of violent unrest in summer 2020, he publicly criticized several officers who were caught on tape sleeping in the South Side office of former U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush.
“It was just egregious, over-the-top disgusting,” Catanzara said Wednesday. “It just showed his willingness to be a political pawn for this mayor. He became as political as any superintendent has ever been and did the mayor’s bidding from Day 1.”
Last December, Brown was asked about his future with the CPD.
“Today, I’m like I was when I started. I’m here to serve as long as you’ll have me,” Brown said. “That really is my best answer. I don’t have a hidden agenda or anything like that. I’ve fallen in love with the people of Chicago and this city and all the great leaders here, both in the city and outside the city, and I’ll continue to work and grind out the tough, tough challenge of keeping Chicagoans safe.”
Shortly after he took the superintendent job, Brown often talked about his “moonshot goals,” which included going “above and beyond” the requirements of the CPD’s consent decree and keeping the city’s murder total under 300 per year — a tally the city hasn’t seen since the 1950s.
As his time leading the department continued, though, his talk of “moonshot goals” disappeared entirely and the department has struggled to keep pace with the court-mandated reforms that were born out of the police killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in 2014.
Meanwhile, murders, nonfatal shootings and carjackings in Chicago remain at higher levels than before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CPD has also seen an uptick in officers dying by suicide in recent years.
The next permanent CPD Superintendent will be selected by the next mayor — either Paul Vallas or Brandon Johnson — after he receives a list of three candidates submitted by the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability. After the next mayor makes his choice, the candidate will need approval from the City Council.