Chicago’s controversial police superintendent, Eddie Johnson, announced his retirement Thursday, stepping down after just three years on the job.
Johnson held a press conference Thursday morning and, flanked by his family and Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot, brought an end to his three-decade police career in the nation’s third largest city.
“I have given 31 years now to this city, and almost four as superintendent,” Johnson said earlier this week. “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.”
“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,” he continued
He echoed that sentiment in his remarks Thursday, adding that his job left little time for him to spend with his family, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Johnson grew up in Chicago and joined the police department at a young age, rising through the ranks until he was selected to help bring an end to Chicago’s streak of gun violence during the tenure of former mayor Rahm Emanuel, and to help restructure and reform the Chicago Police Department following the police shooting death of teenager Laquan McDonald.
By all accounts, Johnson has done his job; the Tribune reports that homicides and shooting deaths have fallen by around 10% each year Johnson has been on the job, even though Chicago’s violence still makes headlines.
That violence made national news just last week, after Johnson publicly flouted an invitation to attend the International Association of Police Chiefs convention in Chicago because President Donald Trump, who regularly draws attention to Chicago’s gun problem, was the keynote speaker. The pair engaged in a war of words, with Trump calling out Johnson in his speech to the IAPC, and again on Twitter.
“Chicago will never stop its crime wave with the current Superintendent of Police. It just won’t happen!” Trump told the IAPC audience. “All over the world, they’re talking about Chicago – Afghanistan is a safe place by comparison.”
“Chicago will never stop its crime wave with the current Superintendent of Police,” Trump later tweeted. “It just won’t happen! Thank you to Kevin Graham and all of the GREAT Chicago Police Officers I just had the privilege to meet. Tremendous crime fighting potential if allowed to do your thing!”
Johnson might not have retired from his job so quickly were it not for an internal investigation, currently underway, into an incident that found Johnson slumped behind the wheel of a running car, stopped at a stop sign just blocks from his home in the Bridgeport neighborhood on Chicago’s south side.
Lightfoot addressed that issue earlier this week, saying Johnson told her that he was in the process of switching medication, and did not know his new prescription would leave him sleepy (Johnson had a liver transplant just a few years ago).
“I know what the superintendent told me, which is that he was … changing medication … He’d been out to dinner with some folks. He told me he was driving home,” Lightfoot told the Chicago Tribune on Monday. “He felt ill and pulled over to the side of the road, which he believed was the prudent thing to do.”
Johnson later admitted that he had a few drinks at dinner with friends before he got behind the wheel. CPD’s Internal Affairs department opened an inquiry into Johnson’s behavior this week.