Interim Chicago Police Supt. Charlie Beck suspends merit promotion system

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CHICAGO — Interim Chicago Police Superintendent Charlie Beck is suspending the department's merit promotion system.

The police union has criticized the merit promotion system since it started in the 1990s, so the interim superintendent’s move to suspend the practice is welcome news.

In a letter to the entire department of more than 13,400, Beck announced the move saying he had heard dissatisfaction and discouragement from many over the practice.

Critics claim it allowed the unqualified to move up — since officers could be promoted to the ranks of detective, sergeant and lieutenant, based on time of service and recommendations — regardless of their exam scores.

Two years ago, even the justice department criticized the practice for lacking transparency.

The interim superintendent said he will recommend that his successor keep the practice shelved and in the future, hold promotional exams every two-years.

Before he was fired a week ago, former Supt. Eddie Johnson told the city council last month that the merit system needed to be fair. But it had made a difference in diversifying the upper ranks.

Beck said he consulted with FOP President Kevin Graham and Mayor Lori Lightfoot in determining that merit promotions should end.

According to a spokesman for the interim superintendent, Beck will not be providing interviews on his decision.

A department veteran, who does not want to be identified, tells WGN the program was abused with many undeserving people getting promoted.

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