CHICAGO — Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson will announce plans to retire on Thursday after more than three years as top officer of the nation’s second-largest police department.
“A true son of Chicago who grew up in public housing and went to public schools went on to become one of our most dedicated public servants,” spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in a tweet Thursday morning.
Guglielmi said Johnson would formally make the announcement at a press conference Thursday.
The news may not be a surprise to Chicagoans: Johnson told reporters earlier this week that he was considering retirement, saying the position had been a “sacrifice” for his family.
The announcement comes amid an investigation into why Johnson, 59, was found asleep behind the wheel of his SUV at a stop sign last month. Johnson called for the investigation of himself, attributing the cause to a change in his blood pressure medication.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot later told the Chicago Sun-Times that Johnson said he had “a couple of drinks with dinner” that same night.
A tenure colored by gun violence, police misconduct and Smollett
Johnson grew up in Chicago public housing and joined the police department in 1988. He was appointed to superintendent in 2016 by then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who had fired Superintendent Garry McCarthy following the release of police dashcam video of white officer Jason Van Dyke fatally shooting black teen Laquan McDonald.
During his tenure, Johnson grappled with gun violence in the city, high-profile scandals, frequent criticism from the White House and his own life-threatening kidney disease.
In 2016, Chicago attracted national attention for a surge of gun violence. Homicides jumped by 64%, and the number of shootings increasing by 47%, claiming hundreds of lives.
In early 2017, a Department of Justice investigation concluded that the CPD was beset by widespread racial bias, excessive use of force, poor training and feckless oversight of officers accused of misconduct.
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When “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett staged a fake hate crime this past January, Johnson was furious, saying Smollett owed the city an apology for wasting its time and money.
Just last month, Johnson garnered criticism when he decided to boycott President Trump’s speech to the International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference over the president’s immigration policy and his past comments about people of color. The move pushed Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police board to issue a vote of no confidence in Johnson.
“Chicago will never stop its crime wave with the current Superintendent of Police. It just won’t happen!” Trump later tweeted.
Responding at a news conference, Johnson said Trump distorted conditions in a city where the crime rate is falling. “The national narrative that Chicago is a city on fire is simply not true,” he said.
Under Johnson’s tenure as superintendent, the number of shootings and homicides in Chicago have fallen by double-digit percentages each year.
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