Acting CPD Supt. Eric Carter announces retirement amid nationwide search for next top cop

Interim Chicago Police Supt. Eric Carter announced Thursday that he plans to resign while a newly formed commission continues to search for his predecessor’s permanent replacement. 

Carter plans to officially retire on May 15, just two months after he took over the Chicago Police Department from Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s hand-picked Supt. David Brown, whose tenure was marked by a historic spike in violent crime, low morale, controversial policy decisions and missteps on the city’s arduous road to reform.

The announcement comes as the newly formed Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability is conducting a nationwide search for candidates to replace Brown, whom Carter served under as the department’s second-ranking official. 

“To the residents of Chicago, law enforcement agencies, clergy, community leaders, and the many organizations who work each day beside CPD, thank you,” Carter said in a statement. “Your continued partnership strengthens public safety daily across our great city.”

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 Mayor-elect Brandon 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 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 time for this s—-.”

He demanded 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.”

The commission searching for the next superintendent began accepting applications earlier 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. 

This is a developing story. Check back soon for more.