Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson reflects on year of loss

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The city streets will be full of squad cars Friday as 200 Chicago police officers will travel to Washington D.C. on their own dime to honor our four fallen officers, Commander Paul Bauer, Samuel Jimenez, Conrad Gary and Eduardo Marmolejo.

"These officers gave their lives for the protection of this city," Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said in a sit down interview with ABC 7. "And now it's the city and the police department's obligation and responsibility to ensure we take care of those families."

Johnson said he deeply feels how much his department has suffered this past year. Four officers were killed in the line of duty fighting gun violence. He said that number has weighed heavily on him.

"I started talking about what I felt out there on the railroad tracks that night," Johnson said, recounting the night officers Gary and Marmolejo were killed. "At that moment, it occurred to me what I felt was guilt. Because you're always thinking what could you have done to make those situations different."

But it's not just the deaths of the officers killed in the line of duty that occupy the superintendent's thoughts. It's the multiple police officers who have chosen to end their own lives.

"2018 was a difficult year for us," Johnson said. "We comfort each other. Because at the end of the day, we're people just like anybody else."

He has a message for officers that need mental health services.

"They need to know that their job won't be in jeopardy and we will give them every resource available to us to help them get through those tough times," Johnson said.

He shared a resounding message ahead of the commemoration in Washington to the families of the fallen and citizens of the city of Chicago.

"Chicago needs to know those officers were heroes and we need to do everything we can to protect their legacies," Johnson said.
Copyright © 2019 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.