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How Will The Chicago's Next Police Superintendent Be Chosen?

by Todd Feurer, CBS Chicago web producer

CHICAGO (CBS) -- With Police Supt. Eddie Johnson announcing his retirement Thursday, the Chicago Police Board will soon begin the process of searching for his permanent replacement.

The city's municipal code requires the nine-member board to conduct a nationwide search for a new superintendent, and come up with a list of three nominees to send to the mayor.

Candidates for the $260,000-a-year job of police superintendent would have to apply to the Police Board. While they are required to live in the city to serve as superintendent, they don't have to be Chicago residents to apply, and only would have to move here once they take the job.

Police superintendents in Chicago are not required to be sworn officers, and can serve as civilians. For example, former Supt. Jody Weis was never a sworn officer, which proved a sore point with many rank-and-file officers throughout his tenure. If a superintendent is a sworn officer, the mandatory retirement age is 63.

Applicants typically are asked not only to explain their qualifications for the job, but to lay out their plans for the department, including how they would reduce violent crime and how they would increase diversity in the ranks.

The board typically takes several months to vet candidates for the job and nominate three finalists.

The mayor could then either appoint one of those nominees, who would have to be confirmed by the City Council, or she could reject all three nominees and the board would have to conduct a new search.

The last time there was an opening for a new superintendent, after then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel fired Garry McCarthy, Emanuel went around the formal Police Board process to install Johnson, who didn't initially apply for the job.

While Emanuel did reject all three finalists chosen by the board – led at the time by now-Mayor Lori Lightfoot – a second search was never conducted. Instead, Emanuel convinced the City Council to temporarily change the rules for choosing a superintendent, and confirming his choice of Johnson.

Lightfoot has said she will respect the Police Board process to pick Johnson's permanent successor.

"The Police Board process is mandated, by law. I'm not going to violate the law," she said. "Having led the last search for a superintendent, I believe in respecting the law and the Police Board process. So when and if we get to that point, of course I will follow the law, and I will follow the Police Board process."

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