Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson announced Thursday morning he plans on retiring at the end of the year, capping off what’s been a tumultuous year for the top cop.
“It’s time for someone else to pin these four stars to their shoulders. These stars can sometimes feel like carrying the weight of the world, but I’m confident that I leave CPD in a better place than when I became superintendent,” Johnson said at a news conference at police headquarters, according to CBS 2 Chicago.
His announcement comes amid an internal investigation into an incident last month where Johnson was found asleep in his car—which was still running. Johnson said he was having dinner and drinks with friends before he was found slumped over at a stop sign.
As the Chicago Tribune reports, Johnson denies his exit has anything to do with the investigation or his health (he underwent a kidney transplant two years ago). But despite Johnson’s assertion that he’s leaving Chicago in the hands of a better police force, an honest assessment of his three-year tenure will find mixed results, at best.
Johnson stepped into the role of CPD superintendent following the court-ordered release of police dashcam footage showing 17-year-old Laquan McDonald being shot 16 times by then-officer Jason Van Dyke. The Tribune notes that violent crime was also at historic highs the year Johnson took office, and a U.S. Department of Justice probe confirmed what many Chicago residents had said for years: that CPD routinely violated the civil rights of black Chicagoans.
Over the next three years, Johnson expanded the ranks of CPD, adding 1,000 officers and 400 detectives to its ranks. But while murders are down in the Windy City compared to three years ago, fewer than half of those cases get solved, reports WGN-TV. This year, distrust in CPD was made painfully apparent when actor Jussie Smollett alleged he had been the victim of a homophobic, racist attack. Following an investigation, CPD concluded that Smollett had fabricated the attack. The counter-allegations set off a high-profile battle between Smollett and the CPD that ultimately ended with Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx dropping all 16 felony counts against the R&B singer and former Empire actor.
From the AP:
When Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson announced charges against Smollett, he angrily made clear the stakes of the investigation and why it was so important that police solve the case, saying that Smollett “took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career.”
Johnson appears to have little in the way of regrets.
“I’ve been doing this 31 years. It’s time. 2020 will be a new year and a new chapter in my life, and I’m looking forward to it. I am so at peace, mentally, with everything,” he said.