Interim Supt. Eddie Johnson to focus on rebuilding community trust, officer morale

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The new interim top cop Eddie Johnson spoke about how he will change the Chicago Police Department. (WLS)

The new interim top cop Eddie Johnson sat down with reporters Tuesday afternoon to answer questions about how he will change the Chicago Police Department.

"If our parents parent their children, a lot of this stuff will resolve itself," Johnson said while speaking to a resident in the Auburn-Gresham neighborhood.

In a neighborhood where he once served as district commander, Johnson - a father of three - told a resident better parenting is a key element in his effort to reduce violent crime in the black community.

"It's time for the African-American community to step up and take ownership of their communities. Be parents, be mothers and be fathers. They know right from wrong. Teach them that and make sure they do that," Johnson said.

The 27-year veteran - promoted from his job as CPD Chief of Patrol, who once walked a beat in Auburn Gresham - says he'll also focus on improving officer morale.

When asked if he will ever stop being a beat cop, Johnson said: "No, you don't and I think that's why I relate so well to the rank-and-file because I have not forgotten where I started."

Community activist Fr. Michael Phleger, an old friend of Johnson, greeted the newly-appointed top cop here as skeptical neighbors looked on.

"I'd like to see his itinerary on how he's going to do things," said Maurice Clark, a neighborhood resident.

At his appointment news conference Monday, Johnson emphasized rebuilding trust between police and residents. He vowed again to have zero tolerance for officer misconduct. And the first home-grown top cop in 13 years says he will not involve himself in City Hall politics.

"My job is to ensure the safety of the residents of the city to the best of my ability. That's what I know how to do. I know how to stay in my lane. That's my lane," Johnson said.
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The public's response to Eddie Johnson being appointed CPD interim superintendent has been mostly positive. But not everyone is happy about this choice.


The public's response to Eddie Johnson being appointed interim superintendent of the Chicago Police Department has been mostly positive. But not everyone is happy about this choice.

A group of residents, made up of retired police officers, firefighters, city workers and some college students, held a press conference outside CPD headquarters Tuesday to talk about why they don't agree with the process.

Johnson, 55, grew up in Cabrini Green. He is a 27-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department and was chief of patrol. He never applied for the superintendent job, but was chosen by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.


Johnson is respected within the CPD and has the support of minority aldermen. But he was not among the three finalists recommended by the Chicago Police Board. The group that protested Tuesday said the mayor's action sends the wrong message to the city.

"It's not so much about Eddie Johnson. What we are saying is that a corrupt process produces a corrupt result," said Greg Livingston, president of the Coalition for a New Chicago.

Protesters, holding signs representing various Chicago neighborhoods, said the mayor's selection process was not thorough and they want the choice to be in the hands of residents.

At a press conference Monday afternoon, Johnson said he knows there is a lot of work to be done.

"I would say to these young people out here shooting and killing, they are destroying our communities. They're destroying families and it has to stop," Johnson said.

In the coming weeks, Johnson said he plans to meet with aldermen, activists, residents and community and business leaders.

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