Supt. Eddie Johnson Releases First Public Statement on Firing - NBC Chicago
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Supt. Eddie Johnson Releases First Public Statement on Firing

Johnson denied the mayor's allegations that he "intentionally mislead" her and the public, but acknowledged that he "made a poor decision and had a lapse of judgment"

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Johnson Issues Statement After Firing

    NBC 5's Christian Farr has new details after former Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson made a statement following his ouster from the department. 

    (Published Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019)

    Read the full statement below.

    Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson has released a statement after he was fired from his job as the city's top cop one month before his planned retirement. 

    "I am making this public statement today, my first as the former superintendent of the Chicago Police Department," he wrote. "I am of course disappointed that I could not finish my career on January 1, as originally planned. However, I respect yesterday’s decision of Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Any police superintendent serves at the discretion of the mayor; that’s how it is and that’s how it should be."

    Johnson denied the mayor's allegations that he "intentionally mislead" her and the public on what happened on Oct. 17 when he was found slumped behind the wheel of his car, but acknowledged that he "made a poor decision and had a lapse of judgment." 

    "That was a mistake and I know that," he wrote. 

    In her decision to fire Johnson, Lightfoot cited evidence she had reviewed from an ongoing investigation by the inspector general into the incident. She added that Johnson "engaged in a series of actions intolerable for any leader in a position of trust."

    A source confirmed that Johnson was out to dinner with a female colleague of the police department the evening of the incident. The source also said Johnson has not yet seen the video the mayor is referring to.

    His termination Monday came one month before Johnson's planned retirement was set to take effect. 

    "When I announced my retirement last month, I stated proudly and accurately that I was leaving the Chicago Police Department with my integrity intact. That is still true today," Johnson wrote Tuesday. "If some want to question that belief, that is their right; but I know in my heart that I have always tried to act in a way that is in the best interests of this great city." 

    Charlie Beck, a former Los Angeles police chief, was named interim superintendent following Johnson's retirement announcement - a choice that Lightfoot reinforced on Monday. 

    Chicago's Interim Top Cop Sends Letter to DepartmentChicago's Interim Top Cop Sends Letter to Department

    Hours after Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot fired police superintendent Eddie Johnson for what she called "intolerable actions," Charlie Beck, the interim superintendent of the Chicago Police Department, sent a letter to its members assuring them the department is "headed in the right direction." NBC 5's Lexi Sutter reports.

    (Published Monday, Dec. 2, 2019)

    "There must be no mistake about the message I am sending today. The 13,400 sworn and the civilian members of the Chicago Police Department who work hard every day deserve a leader they can believe in," she said. "And to achieve the reform and accountability in the department that we know is urgently needed, we require a leader whose actions reflect the virtues of integrity honor and legitimacy - the touchstones of what it takes to have the privilege of being a Chicago police officer. I am confident that interim Supt. Beck is such a leader and that both he and the eventual permanent superintendent will serve with honor.”

    In his letter sent to CPD members, interim Supt. Beck said Monday morning's events "likely caused a great deal of unease,” but assured CPD members the department is “stable, strong and headed in the right direction."

    Read Johnson's full statement below.

    I am making this public statement today, my first as the former superintendent of the Chicago Police Department. I am of course disappointed that I could not finish my career on January 1, as originally planned. However, I respect yesterday’s decision of Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Any police superintendent serves at the discretion of the mayor; that’s how it is and that’s how it should be.

    When I announced my retirement last month, I stated proudly and accurately that I was leaving the Chicago Police Department with my integrity intact. That is still true today. If some want to question that belief, that is their right; but I know in my heart that I have always tried to act in a way that is in the best interests of this great city. One thing I want everyone to know is this: I did not intentionally mislead or deceive the Mayor or the people of Chicago. I acknowledge that I made a poor decision and had a lapse of judgment on the night of October 16. That was a mistake and I know that. However, I have no interest in fighting a battle for my reputation with those that want to question it now. Reputations are not built in a day and not damaged in a day either. They are the result of years of living. We reap what we sow in this world. I will simply rely on the reputation for integrity that I think I have earned during my long career, with the faith that we should all be judged by the entirety of our lives and not on what happened on our worst days.

    Serving as the superintendent of the greatest police department in America has been the honor of my lifetime and an experience I never thought I would have. It still amazes me that a kid from Cabrini Green could make it this far. I was appointed at a tumultuous and difficult time for the Department. I never sought this job but I accepted it because I believed I could make a difference. I have never claimed to be perfect, but I have always given my all for the CPD and the people of Chicago. Violent crime is now falling in the city. We have begun the complicated process of implementing a far-reaching federal consent decree that is changing how the Department is managed. And at every step I have tried to remember that the CPD works best when it partners with the community, rather than dictates to it. I am proud of all these efforts, even though there is so much more that needs to be done.

    To Mayor Lori Lightfoot and former Mayor Rahm Emanuel: thank you for the faith you showed in my abilities.

    To all the great women and men in blue who continue to serve: keep the faith and idealism that drew you to public service; the police profession is getting more demanding, but if you stick to the values that brought you this far, all will be well.

    To all of our elected officials: as you implement the reforms to the CPD in the days ahead, please keep in mind the impact these essential efforts will have on the young officers out there patrolling in our communities and give them the resources and support they need to do things the right way.

    To Charlie Beck and all the leaders in the CPD, good luck in all you do in the future; and if there is anything large or small that I can do to assist you in the future, please let me know.

    And finally, and most importantly, to the people of Chicago: you have treated me with respect and decency during these past few years, even when we had disagreements about particular issues. I always felt like I was getting a fair shake and that most folks were willing to listen and engage rather than yell and argue. I pray that I have been able to reciprocate the support you provided.

    My plans for the weeks ahead will be to re-connect with my family, enjoy the holiday season, and improve my health. But I will always be a proud Chicagoan nd I love this city with all my heart, so in the future I look forward to staying active and helping out in any way can.

    God bless you all.

    Eddie Johnson

    Chicago, Illinois

    December 3, 2019

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