Thursday, November 7, 2019

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson Announces Retirement

Retirement celebration graphic announcing the retirement of Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, courtesy of ABC 7 Chicago

Major news corporations across the United States have announced the retirement of Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson today. Johnson and Chicago Mayor, Lori Lightfoot, held a press conference at Chicago Police Headquarters today with Johnson's immediate family present, all of whom are sworn members of the Chicago Police Department.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson announces his retirement at Chicago Police Headquarters with his immediate family, godmother, and Mayor Lori Lightfoot present on November 7th, 2019

Johnson spoke about time spent with the widows of fallen CPD personnel, and a trip to Europe to see the Chicago Bears play. Johnson stated those were the two experiences that were the final influences for his decision to retire. He said he felt like a normal person during those times. "It is time for someone else to pin these four stars to their shoulders," Johnson said. "These stars can sometimes feel like carrying the weight of the world and I'm confident I leave CPD in a better place than when I became superintendent."

Early-on in his retirement speech, Johnson paid tribute to his early life in what was once Chicago's Cabrini Green neighborhood, also mentioning his parents and their hard work. Johnson also spoke about what drove him to a career in law enforcement. The Superintendent stated that he was on a path towards a life in the medical sciences, but felt a pull towards public service. Johnson spoke about his love for the city, about this being the only home he has ever known. Mayor Lori Lightfoot, in her speech after the Superintendent's, said that over the past 31 years, the Chicago Police Department is the only employer Johnson has ever had.

During Johnson's speech, he spoke of Mayor Lori Lightfoot as his friend. The end of his speech saw him embrace the Mayor as his family and godmother looked on.

CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson embraces Mayor Lori Lightfoot at the end of his November 7th, 2019, retirement speech

During his speech, from the very beginning, Johnson listed the progress and achievements the Chicago Police Department has made under his leadership. Johnson also spoke about how he took the time to listen to diverse voices in his office, and that he recognized people want to have their voices and concerns heard. He remarked that half of Chicago must likely have his cell phone number. Johnson also said this, "a leader doesn't bark orders, he leads by example".

Prior to the press conference, Johnson sent a letter to all under his command. The letter is printed here as his departing words.

Dear Members,

I joined the Chicago Police Department for the same reason as many of you. I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to be the cop that took the time to listen to those he swore to serve and protect.

I wanted to be the officer that families waved to as I drove down their block. I wanted them to know my name, and I wanted to know their names too. This job has always been about relationships, and I have made more friends as a Chicago cop than I would have ever imagined.

I have had the privilege of serving as Superintendent since April 2016. This was a difficult time for CPD. The city was still reeling after the release of the video showing the police shooting of Laquan McDonald.

Trust between CPD and the people of Chicago had fallen to the lowest level I’d seen in my 31 years on the job. As a Department, we were also trying to make sense of the changes regarding street stops that came courtesy of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Murders spiked to a level not seen since the 1990s. Some predicted that Chicago would continue its downward slide, but I knew we could do better. We just needed to do things differently.

A Superintendent can talk about reform all day, but it’s every Department Member who needs to be an agent of change. I can’t thank you enough for buying into a new strategy and reshaping CPD for the better.

Today, we are on pace to post four straight years of double-digit declines in murders, shootings, robberies and burglaries. We’ve made this happen while increasing transparency, putting a renewed emphasis on community policing and investing in manpower and new technology. I know that none of this would have been possible without the hard work and dedication from each and every one of you.

With that in mind, I come to you with news of my pending retirement from CPD, effective 01 Jan 2020. This was a very difficult decision because I love this job, and I love the people that wear this uniform. Still, the time has come for me to move on to the next chapter in my life. As someone once shared with me, "This is a job of a lifetime, but not a job for a lifetime."

I cannot thank you for enough for your making my time as Superintendent one of the greatest honors of my life. This Department - this Family in Blue - elevated a humble beat copy to the rank of Superintendent. I will forever be in your debt. 

Because of your efforts, we leave this Department in a better place. CPD is also on a path to post continued decreases in violent crime while strengthening our relationships with the community. We paved this path together. There is certainly more work to do. But I am confident CPD will answer the call as you have done so many times before. 

God Bless CPD. God Bless Chicago. And as always, stay safe. 


Eddie T. Johnson
Superintendent of Police

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