Will the Real Eddie Johnson Please Standup?

JohnsonThe outpouring of love for Superintendent Eddie Johnson as he announced his retirement from the CPD certainly does not align well with what we know about his career.

Now that he is retiring the media is making it seem as if Eddie Johnson is some kind of hero cop instead of the Emanuel political appointment that he was. It is important to remember that Johnson never applied for the job of Superintendent but instead was plucked from obscurity in the department to become superintendent after political pressure from the City Council’s Black Caucus.

Let’s just say his selection was not based on his:

  • innovative approach to policing
  • scholarly work on policing
  • ability to create connections with communities
  • his long track record of accountability

What was his actual qualifications? Well, sadly in Chicago it seems that it was that he was black and an internal candidate. This is of course the first superintendent hired after the release of the Laquan McDonald video was released. It is fair to say the relationship between our communities and the CPD had never been worse. What does the black caucus and Emanuel do? They hire an internal candidate with no real qualifications.

For full disclosure I was never in favor of Johnson’s promotion to Superintendent and said so publicly through my editorial in the Crain’s.

If he had a long track record with any of these items that might have qualified him for his job but he had none. A city council source once told me that when Johnson met with alderman and was asked about his qualifications he said something like god put him here.

Yup, that is one hell of a qualification to run one of the largest police departments in the country. Johnson was nothing more than a yes man that is a prime example of the go along to get along guy. Remember that Johnson said that he never witnessed an act of misconduct in his career. This of course was after he saw the video of the Laquan McDonald murder we would learn later

Then you have to take the rest of his career that is just marred with either outright approving or enabling misconduct. Not to mention his promotion of a commander with over 90 civilian complaints against him in his 30 years on the force

Any of this should have been a red flag and barred his promotion but obviously to the black caucus and Emanuel this track record was a perfect fit for the Superintendent’s office. 

I recommend when you hear the outpouring of love for Johnson you take a step back and realize he should have never been promoted in the first place. His promotion was due to his long career of covering up misconduct and political pressure from the black caucus to promote an internal black candidate. 

Author: Tracy Siska

Tracy Siska is the Founder and Executive Director of the Chicago Justice Project.

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