Eddie Johnson Named New Interim Police Chief; Citizens Protest
In what will more than likely become the final decision in identifying a chief officer for the Chicago Police Department (CPD), Mayor Rahm Emanuel named Eddie Johnson as interim superintendent for the embattled city unit.
The CPD has been under constant public scrutiny that intensified after the release of video footage showing a CPD officer fatally shooting down 16 year-old Laquan McDonald.
Johnson’s name was not included on a list of three finalists recommended by the Chicago Police Board headed by President, Lori E. Lightfoot, and now the question is, “why?”
"While each of the finalists had strong qualifications, the mayor did not feel that any of them were the complete package that Chicago needs at this time and thus none were offered the position," Kelley Quinn, a spokesperson for the mayor said in a news report. "The mayor called each of them individually late Saturday to let them know of his decision."
The three finalists were Dr. Cedric Alexander, Anne E. Kirkpatrick and Eugene Williams. Alexander is the COO for public safety in DeKalb County, Georgia; Kirkpatrick once headed the police department in Spokane, Washington and Williams is currently the deputy police superintendent in Chicago.
The mayor is obviously utilizing a city ordinance that allows him to appoint an interim chief and ask the police board for a brand new list of finalists. Johnson will need to apply.
But the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr. of Rainbow/PUSH feels that the mayor short changed the residents of Chicago by going this route.
“Eddie Johnson might be a great pick to lead Chicago’s troubled police department, but the process in which he was selected undermines the product,” Jackson said in a statement. “By circumventing the long established procedure for picking the city’s top cop, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has loaded Chief Johnson down with baggage that reeks of backroom deals.”
Protest rallies were planned by some community groups yesterday morning in front of police headquarters, to show that they did not agree with the mayor's decision.
A statement from the mayor’s office said that Emanuel is, "confident that Eddie Johnson is the right person at the right time to fight crime, lift morale in the police department, and build on the work that's been done to restore trust and accountability in the police department."
The mayor is on a quest to replace former Superintendent Garry McCarthy who was fired last year due to the fact that he lacked “public trust.”
Johnson’s foremost message to the community is that he is part of the community and that the community can trust him.
“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 at a press conference on Monday. "I am one of you. I grew up here. I raised my kids here. I have spent my entire career with the Chicago Police Department. I am proud to wear this star, and I am absolutely confident that we can meet this challenge."
Johnson is a 27-year department veteran and a former commander on the South Side. He grew up in the Cabrini Green housing project until he was in the third grade but then moved to the South Side where he still resides. He has held supervisory roles in the CPD including lieutenant, deputy chief of area central and chief of patrol.
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