Chicago, IL – Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson announced on Thursday that he was retiring from the police department.
“This job has taken its toll,” Superintendent Johnson told reporters at a press conference as he stood surrounded by his family. “It’s taken a toll on my health, my family, my friends. But my integrity remains intact and I’m proud of what the department has accomplished under my tenure.”
The superintendent said he was leaving the Chicago Police Department (CPD) in better shape than it was in when he became top cop.
“It’s time for someone else to pin these four stars to their shoulders,” he said, sounding choked up. “These stars that sometimes feel like you’re carrying the weight of the world.”
Superintendent Johnson said he started planning his retirement at the memorial service for the city’s fallen officers in September.
“Losing those officers was hard, so that’s when I started thinking about it,” he said.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot talked about how the city had seen a “significant, across-the-board reductions in crime” under the superintendent’s watch, and complimented him for being “clear-eyed and honest about the challenges” of his police department.
“He took on a job he did not apply for… when faith in our police department was at a historic low,” the mayor said. “Under his watch, the CPD has made critical reforms… to bridge the divide between the police department and the community.”
Reporters tried to ask questions about the investigation into Superintendent Johnson being found asleep in his police vehicle on the side of a street in October, but the mayor shut it down and the superintendent refused to engage.
“It’s inappropriate to talk about anything related to the investigation because he’s going to be a witness and I’m going to be a witness… we’re not going to talk about it,” Lightfoot said when a reporter pushed her. “I understand you’re just doing your job, but we’re not going to talk about it.”
Both called it a special occasion for his family and pointed to his small son who was on stage with him.
“I choose to focus on the positive things,” Superintendent Johnson said. “I’ve been doing this 31 years and it’s time. 2020 will be a new chapter in my life and I’m looking forward to it.”
The superintendent said he has agreed to stay on at the head of the police department until the end of the year.
Lightfoot is expected to announce that he will be replaced by former Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck on an interim basis, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Former Chief Beck, who spent 40 years at the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), nine of them as top cop, is on the short list of candidates to be considered as a permanent replacement police superintendent for the city of Chicago.
Superintendent Johnson’s resignation did not come as a surprise. He had been dropping hints about considering retirement for a couple of weeks.
But the superintendent has claimed all along that his decision had nothing to do with the investigation into him falling asleep on the side of the street in his police vehicle or the “no confidence” vote by the police union’s leadership after he boycotted President Donald Trump’s speech at the International Association of Police Chiefs conference in his city.
The mayor praised him for that move, which terribly undermined morale in the rank and file.
“He showed the President what true leadership and character look like,” she bragged.
Superintendent Johnson had recently told the Chicago Tribune that he was considering making “another chapter” in his life.
The superintendent spoke with reporters at City Hall during a break in budget hearings and said he had recently realized how much his family has had to give up in order for him to be the top cop in the city.
He said a family trip to London to cheer for the Chicago Bears brought things into focus, the Chicago Tribune reported.
“I have given 31 years now to this city, and almost four as superintendent,” Superintendent Johnson said. “You know, but I recognize also that at some point it’s time to create another chapter in your life.”
“And I will tell you all this: When my family and I went to London for the Bears game, that’s the first vacation like that that I’ve had since I became superintendent,” he continued. “And I looked at my family and it made me realize how much of a sacrifice you make for your family when you take on positions like this.”
The superintendent told reporters that he has been “toying with” the idea of retiring for “some time,” the Chicago Tribune.