Police Chief, Northeastern Illinois University (2016-)
Interim Police Superintendent, Chicago Police Department (2015-2016)
First Deputy Superintendent, Chicago Police Department (October 2015-December 2015)
Chief of Detectives (2011-2015)
Deputy Chief of Patrol for Area Five (2010-2011)
Commander, District 14 (2009-2010)
Officer, Chicago Police Department (1986-)
Within five years, Interim Police Superintendent John Escalante rose from his position as 14th District Commander on Chicago’s Northwest Side to First Deputy Superintendent, to top cop just a couple months later in the wake of the release of the Laquan McDonald video and Superintendent Garry McCarthy’s firing. Interim Superintendent Escalante, described as soft-spoken and low key, told ABC7 becoming Superintendent “was something I always thought about." He later applied, but was passed over for the Superintendent position. The position went to Eddie Johnson instead. He was also considered for the position in 2011, when Supt. Jody Weis stepped down. In August of 2016, it was announced that Escalante would retire from CPD to become police chief at Northeastern Illinois University. The news came the same week as the Sun-Times reported other high-level Chicago Police officials would be leaving the department in connection with the McDonald investigation.
Escalante, the grandchild of Mexican immigrants and lifelong Chicago resident, is a graduate of Lewis University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice. Throughout his nearly 30 years with CPD, he held several senior command positions, including Chief of Detectives, Deputy Chief of Patrol for Area North and Commander of the Bomb and Arson Unit. According to the Chicago Tribune, he “once worked as community-policing lieutenant in the Grand Central District, serving the far West Side and portions of the Northwest Side. He later became patrol commander of Shakespeare, serving Wicker Park, Bucktown and Logan Square. In 2010, he became a deputy chief, overseeing patrol operations for the entire Northwest Side.”
When First Deputy Superintendent Alfonza Wysinger announced his retirement in October 2015, the City Council Black Caucus didn’t specifically call Escalante a disappointing replacement pick, but Caucus Chairman Roderick Sawyer said the Caucus was “deeply concerned about the superintendent’s failure to place African-Americans in positions of leadership throughout the department, as well as a reduction of new African-American police recruits despite our repeated efforts and inquiries.” But when Escalante was promoted again to take over for McCarthy, his rise was applauded by City Council’s Latino Caucus, who said, "We look forward to working with Interim Supt. Escalante on bringing a new era to Chicago." They said his appointment was "a positive and meaningful step towards healing."
In his first weeks as Interim Superintendent, Escalante made a series of promotions to diversify CPD leadership, announced the Department would crack down on officers involved in the “code of silence” and who didn’t ensure audio and video were functioning correctly in squad cars, and changed the organization of gang enforcement teams. He and Mayor Rahm Emanuel also said they would expand the use of body cameras and tasers on the force, and would institute a new policy calling for officers involved in shootings to be shifted to desk duty for 30 days.
Escalante also held titles as Chairman of the Chicago Police Department’s Traffic Review Board, Vice President of the St. Jude Police League, Chairman of the Financial Assistance Committee for the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation, and a member of the International Chiefs of Police Association.
- Lewis University, B.A., Criminal Justice
- Northern Illinois University
Important Political Events
- 1986, Joins Chicago Police Department
- 2011, Considered to replace Jody Weis as Superintendent of CPD
- October 2015, Appointed to replace Alfonza Wysinger as First Deputy Superintendent
- December 2015, Appointed as interim Police Superintendent to replace Garry McCarthy by Mayor Rahm Emanuel