Eddie Johnson

Lightfoot on Who Could Be Chicago's Next Top Cop: ‘Not There Yet'

Supt. Eddie Johnson is expected to announce his retirement soon, according to multiple reports

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot attempted to quell rumors Wednesday on who might replace Chicago's top cop should he announce his retirement, saying "we're not there yet." 

"When the time comes that he is gone then it’s appropriate for me to have that conversation but we’re not there yet," she told reporters following an unrelated press conference.

Supt. Eddie Johnson is expected to announce his retirement soon, according to multiple reports.

The Chicago Tribune was the first to report the news on Tuesday, just one day after Johnson publicly said he was thinking of leaving the job he's held for more than three years and from a department he joined more than three decades ago.

While at City Hall for a budget hearing Monday, Johnson told reporters his decision has nothing to do with an investigation into a recent incident in which he was found asleep behind the wheel of his SUV.

"Former Mayor Rahm Emanuel probably said it best when he said 'these are jobs of a lifetime but they're not jobs for a lifetime,'" Johnson said. 

Johnson said he started contemplating retirement last month when he was in London for a Chicago Bears-Oakland Raiders game. He said that trip was his first vacation since becoming superintendent. He says it made him "realize how much of a sacrifice you make" while in his position. 

"I've been toying with (retirement) for some time," he said. "That London trip really made me realize how much I've given to the city and how much I've taken away from them (my family)." 

Johnson has been under fire recently for an incident in October where he was found asleep in a vehicle. Johnson admitted to Mayor Lori Lightfoot that he had "a couple of drinks" prior to the incident, but police did not administer a field sobriety test when they discovered him in his vehicle. 

An internal investigation has been launched into the matter at Johnson's request, but the department has declined further comment pending the outcome of that probe. 

In discussing his thoughts on potentially retiring, Johnson also cited the high pressure that comes with the job as part of his reasoning on the matter. 

"Everything that a police chief does, everything that you do is second-guessed and questioned," he said. "I think that we have to recognize that the people in these positions are trying to do the best they can but even in saying that, do we make mistakes? Of course (we do)."

Johnson has been criticized publicly by President Donald Trump multiple times, including as recently as last week when Trump tore into Johnson after he declined to attend the president's speech at a law enforcement conference in Chicago. 

"Here's a man that could not bother to show up for a meeting of police chiefs, most respected people in the country, in his hometown, and with the president of the United States," Trump said. "And you know why? It's because he's not doing his job."

Trump called Chicago's violence "embarrassing to us as a nation."

"All over the world they're talking about Chicago. Afghanistan is a safe place by comparison. It's true," he said.

Johnson countered that the "national narrative that Chicago is a city on fire is just simply not true."

"Facts matter," he said, touting three years straight of "double digit reduction" in crime and noting that there are "17 neighborhoods in this city that are safer than Manhattan and LA."

"This president is known for doing a lot of talking about the city of Chicago, but if he's truly ready to roll up his sleeves to partner with us, so are we, as long as that partnership reflects who we are as Chicagoans," Johnson said, echoing his previous responses to similar criticisms from Trump.

Johnson was appointed as the interim superintendent in 2016 after former Superintendent Garry McCarthy was fired by Mayor Emanuel in Dec. 2015. He was officially sworn in as superintendent in April of that year after his nomination was approved by the Chicago City Council. 

"I love this job and I love this city, but I recognize that at some point it's time to create a different chapter in your life," he said. 

A source told NBC 5 Johnson and Mayor Lori Lightfoot spoke with Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo last month at the International Association of Chiefs of Police convention in Chicago.

Acevedo is the president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association. Lightfoot also spoke with former New York Police Department Commissioner Bill Bratton, a source said, as well as Chief Scott Thompson of Camden, New Jersey.

Details of those conversations remained under wraps Wednesday, while another name circulating in discussions about an interim role was former Deputy Supt. Hiram Grau, who was the director of the Illinois State Police until 2015.

Lightfoot would not confirm the reports Wednesday, saying she has not begun the process of looking for a replacement for Johnson. 

"I’ve seen a lot of speculation about different names, some of which are wildly offbase," she said. "As I said, we have a superintendent who’s in place and when the time comes to make an announcement we’ll make an announcement." 

Copyright A
Contact Us