A top Chicago police official who oversees the hundreds of detectives under Chicago police Superintendent David Brown intends to leave the police department, according to sources familiar with the departure.
Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan will leave the department in the coming weeks to take a position with Google, according to one of the sources. A police department spokesperson could not be reached to comment on his impending exit.
Word of Deenihan’s move comes as Brown faces an uncertain future as Chicago’s top cop with his boss, Mayor Lori Lightfoot, locked in a highly contentious bid for re-election on Feb. 28 against eight challengers vying for her job.
Long regarded as one of the most respected police officials by many within the department, Deenihan was appointed in early 2020 to lead the detective bureau by then-interim police Superintendent Charlie Beck, overseeing hundreds of detectives who investigate violent crimes ranging from homicides, non-fatal shootings and sexual assaults to non-violent crimes like burglaries and large-scale thefts.
Deenihan was put in charge of a detective bureau that had been heavily criticized for posting a homicide clearance rate that was far lower than other major U.S. cities, though it has improved in recent years. The unit under Deenihan’s leadership has also seen an increased workload since the COVID-19 pandemic took shape in the spring of 2020, with detectives investigating more homicides, non-fatal shootings and other serious crimes as gun violence has risen and the number of cops within the department ranks has dwindled.
Even before his 2020 promotion, Deenihan was one of the most visible faces of the police department. As deputy chief of detectives, the second highest-ranking post in the bureau, he was routinely chosen to lead media briefings on high-profile investigations.
Prior to that, he served for a time as commander of the Area Central detective division, which encompassed large swaths of the South and Southwest Sides and parts of downtown. Earlier in his career, he supervised violent crime investigations for the Area South detective unit, covering Chicago’s far South Side.
In that post, he helped oversee many high-profile cases, including the line-of-duty killing of Chicago police Officer Michael Flisk in 2010 and the 2008 fatal stabbing of 9-year-old Mya Lyons, whose father was charged 2 1/2 years later and after initially telling investigators that he merely found her body. Mya’s father, Richard Lyons, is serving a 60-year prison sentence for her murder.
Deenihan, who turns 50 this year, has been with the department since 1997.
Chicago Tribune reporters Gregory Pratt and Paige Fry contributed to this story.