Chicago Police Interim Supt. Carter plans to retire on Johnson's first day as mayor
CHICAGO - Interim Superintendent Eric M. Carter of the Chicago Police Department announced his plans to retire Thursday afternoon.
His retirement will be effective May 15, 2023 – which is Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson's first day in office.
Carter's decision to retire comes after three decades of service to the city of Chicago.
"It has been my greatest honor to serve as your Interim Superintendent and I have committed to working with Mayor-elect Johnson to ensure that our department continues to deliver transformational service to Chicago’s residents and visitors throughout the summer season, as the search for a permanent Superintendent continues and the subsequent transition," Carter said.
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Carter served as First Deputy Superintendent, CPD's second-in-command, from July 2020 to March 2023 before taking the job as Interim Superintendent a month ago.
The search continues for CPD's next Superintendent.
The public was able to weigh in on who should take the spot as the next top cop at a forum Wednesday night at St. Sabina Church on the South Side. This was the second of four public meetings.
The newly-formed Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability is putting together recommendations for a new top cop to present to Johnson when he takes office.
The job application closes on May 7, just days before Johnson will be sworn in. He will be handed the names of the top three candidates, and he can choose from that list.
Mayor Lightfoot released a statement Thursday after Carter's announcement:
"I want to congratulate Interim Superintendent Eric Carter on his retirement after 30 years of service to the Chicago Police Department. As a Marine, husband, and father, he has given the full measure of himself in service to the residents of this city and the officers under his command. I am thankful for his dedicated commitment to our city and for leading the brave law enforcement officers who keep us safe. I wish him the best as he transitions to his next chapter."
It’s unclear who will replace Carter on an interim basis because his replacement as first deputy superintendent hasn’t been announced. The decision will likely fall to Mayor-elect Johnson.
In an email to department members, Carter said he told Brown that he planned to retire late last year and has since informed Lightfoot and Johnson. Carter’s wife retired as a police captain in March 2022.
In the email, Carter committed to working with Johnson "to ensure that our department continues to deliver transformational service to our residents and visitors throughout the summer season" as the search for the next top cop continues.
A U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Carter rose through the police department’s ranks to become interim superintendent. He previously served in a range of high-ranking roles, including chief of the counterterrorism bureau, deputy chief of the organized crime bureau and commander of the South Chicago and Gresham districts.
"Looking back from my early days in Englewood to now, working hand in hand with every community in the city of Chicago, I will always treasure those experiences and memories," Carter wrote in the email.
"To the members of our command staff that have worked tirelessly beside me throughout the many years, thank you. We could not have made a difference without working together to address the community and the city’s ever-evolving needs. I am proud we’ve moved this city forward, and I am confident that our impact will continue to be felt citywide."
Shortly after Carter announced his retirement, Lightfoot congratulated him on his 30-year career with the department.
"As a Marine, husband and father, he has given the full measure of himself in service to the residents of this city and the officers under his command," Lightfoot said in a statement. "I am thankful for his dedicated commitment to our city and for leading the brave law enforcement officers who keep us safe. I wish him the best as he transitions to his next chapter."
Carter’s career hasn’t been without controversy.
After the fatal shooting of Officer Ella French in August 2021, he infuriated grieving officers who gathered at the Cook County medical examiner’s office for a final sendoff. Ignoring a sacred ritual, he impatiently declared: "We don’t have 20 minutes for this s—."
He demanded that the Chicago Fire Department ambulance carrying French’s body be taken directly into the medical examiner’s office, skipping the traditional playing of bagpipes.
"We’re not waiting on the bagpipes," Carter was heard saying on a recording. "Go ahead and get the vehicle inside."
Carter was also at the center of the bungled response to the chaotic gatherings downtown last weekend that left two teenagers wounded and drew national media attention. Second Ward Ald. Brian Hopkins told the Sun-Times that Carter and Chief of Patrol Brian McDermott got into a shouting match as the situation devolved Saturday night.
The commission searching for the next superintendent began accepting applications this month and will ultimately present three candidates to Johnson by mid-July. Johnson can then pick one of those finalists or request another list of three.
Anthony Driver, the commission’s president, said he doesn’t expect Carter’s retirement to have any impact on the search process.
"[Carter’s] retirement coincides with the mayor leaving office," Driver said. "I’m sure that Mayor-elect Johnson will have someone interim lined up and ready to go."
He said there have been "nuanced" and "holistic" conversations about public safety during the commission’s first two public meetings, organized to inform the decision-making process.
"I’m currently blind to who has applied," he said. "But I have a good feeling about us having some strong applicants."
Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.