Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson announced on Thursday he is retiring from his position.
In 2016, during a time when the city was reeling from the slaying of Black teenager, Laquan McDonald by a white cop, Jason Van Dyke, former Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed Johnson to the top post saying the city needed someone from inside the force that could “lift the morale of Chicago’s police officers and build on the work that’s been done to restore trust and accountability” in the department, according to NBC Chicago.
Johnson, who headed up the country’s second-largest police force with roughly 13,500 officers, fulfilled the role for more than three years and said he is proud of his accomplishments. He said he is stepping down because the job has “taken its toll.”
“It’s time for someone else to pin these four stars to their shoulders,” Johnson, who was emotional, told members of the media. Johnson’s family and Mayor Lori Lightfoot stood near him. “These stars can sometimes feel like carrying the weight of the world.”
“This job has taken its toll — taken a toll on my health, my family, my friends,” Johnson added. “But my integrity has remained intact.”
On Oct. 17, Johnson, 60, was found asleep behind the wheel of his SUV by a motorist who called 911. Police did not administer a breathalyzer test although the mayor told the Chicago Sun-Times that Johnson had admitted to her that he had “a couple of drinks with dinner” beforehand.
At the press conference, Johnson and Lightfoot both declined to discuss the incident, however it is currently being investigated by the city’s inspector general’s office as they try to determine why Johnson was never given a sobriety test, according to WBEZ.
Johnson said back in September, while attending a memorial service for a slain Chicago cop, he nudged Lightfoot about retiring. “The mayor and I were sitting next to the waterfall, when I sat down in that seat, I leaned over her and whispered over to her ear, ‘We got to start talking about an end date for me,’” he said.
Johnson said a month later, while on vacation with his family, he determined when his end date would be.
“It made me feel normal, and I saw them and how they missed me in that kind of setting and that’s pretty much what did it,” he said, according to NBC Chicago.
He’ll serve until the end of the year.
Under Johnson’s lead, Chicago cut its murder rate down from 777 when he took over in 2016 to 565 last year, according to Chicago police data. However, Chicago’s numbers are still extremely high, especially compared to other cities like New York, which recorded 295 homicides last year and Los Angeles with 259.
At the news conference, Lightfoot congratulated Johnson on doing a great job as top cop.
“Chicago is better because Superintendent Eddie Johnson calls our great city home and because he dedicated his life to serving,” Lightfoot said.
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