Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson announced plans to retire from his post on Thursday, saying in an emotional speech that it was time "for someone else to pin these four stars to their shoulders."
"These stars can sometimes feel like carrying the weight of the world," he continued. "But I'm confident that I leave CPD in a better place than when I became superintendent."
Johnson, who has served as the city's top cop since early 2016, said he will stay in his role through the end of the year. He informed the department's top brass of his retirement in a meeting before announcing his decision at a news conference.
Johnson also sent a letter to all CPD officers on his retirement, saying in part that it was a "difficult decision" but "the time has come."
Johnson's letter to Chicago police officers, much of which mirrored the speech he delivered Thursday, can be read in full below:
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