CPD Superintendent reflects on first year on the job

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Eddie Johnson spoke one-on-one with ABC 7 Chicago about what he's done so far on his first year on the job and what he hopes to accomplish. (WLS)

Eddie Johnson spoke one-on-one with ABC 7 Chicago about what he's done so far on his first year on the job and what he hopes to accomplish.

One year ago, outcry grew louder after a Chicago police officer was seen shooting Laquan McDonald on video.

A few months later, the U.S. Department of Justice would issue criticism of the Chicago Police Department's policy, training and culture.

All of this as horrendous headlines of murders and gun violence kept coming.

And at the helm of the department was a new superintendent, fighting a tide of low morale and community distrust.

He knew the challenges well.

He has served nearly 30 years in the Chicago Police Department when Superintendent Johnson took the oath of office. He did it with eyes wide open.

For instance, he didn't need the U.S. Department of Justice to acknowledge racism-he already knew.

"Because I've experienced it myself, it doesn't come as a shock to me when I hear other people say that. It's just something that can't be tolerated," he said.

Recognizing the problem of public perception, Johnson took action to fire Officer Van Dyke who is now charged with the murder of McDonald and he took away the police powers of two other officers charged with wrong doing.

"If you see things that aren't right, you should act on them immediately" he said.

In the last year, the superintendent added more police body cameras, technology to detect and locate shots fired and employed a campaign to recruit more diverse candidates.

Changes to use of force policy and training are also being put into practice.

And yet, there is an avalanche of violence.

The numbers may be down slightly from last year, but so far, there have been 175 murders and nearing 1,000 shooting victims.

"It's frustrating and difficult because I know we can do better" Johnson said.

Johnson has known tragedy growing up in Chicago. A relative was shot by police when he was a child and the attack of a family friend when he was 17 drew him into service.

"I can still remember how it affected my mother. And that's one of the things that caused me to become a police officer," he said.

This year he said is the start toward his goal of making Chicago a model police department and making the city safer for all Chicagoans.

"We've made a lot of changes in a short amount of time and that's a lot for the officers in the streets to have to absorb so quickly, but they've done a good job and it's all designed to make CPD better," he said.

The superintendent said he has much more he wants to do. More technology for police officers, tougher legislation to make those quick to pick up a gun think twice.

He has also become a public figure for organ donation.

He has known about his kidney disease for years and now needs a transplant.

He said he's doing well and hopes to have an organ donation this summer.

Related Topics:
chicago police departmentchicago violenceeddie johnsonChicago
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