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Eddie Johnson fired before scheduled retirement

Monday, Dec 2, 2019

* From Mayor Lori Lightfoot…

Today, I am announcing that I have terminated Eddie Johnson’s employment with the City of Chicago, effective immediately. Upon a thorough review of the materials of the Inspector General’s ongoing investigation, it has become clear that Mr. Johnson engaged in a series of ethical lapses that are intolerable. Mr. Johnson was intentionally dishonest with me and communicated a narrative replete with false statements regarding material aspects of the incident that happened in the early morning hours of October 17. Had I known all the facts at the time, I would have relieved him of his duties as superintendent then and there.

Perhaps worst of all, Mr. Johnson has misled the people of Chicago. The 13,400 sworn and civilian members of the Chicago Police Department who work hard every day deserve a leader who they can believe in. In public life, we must be accountable for our actions and strive to do better every day. And to achieve the reform and accountability in the department that we know is urgently needed, we require a leader whose actions reflect the integrity and legitimacy of what it means to be a Chicago Police Officer. I am confident that incoming Interim Superintendent Beck is such a leader, and that both he and the eventual permanent superintendent will serve with honor.

* Sun-Times

Lightfoot cited an incident in October in which Johnson was found asleep in his car near his Bridgeport home. He said he neglected to take a prescribed medication and became lightheaded before he decided to pull over, but Lightfoot said he told her that he also had “a couple of drinks” at dinner before driving home. […]

Johnson’s firing is just the start of a high-level shakeup of the department, a source told the Sun-Times.

* Tribune

Had Lightfoot known all of the facts, she wouldn’t have participated in a celebratory press conference with Johnson announcing his retirement, she said.

Firing Johnson is an indication she will demand “The old Chicago way must give way to new way” of ethical leadership. Supervisors in the police department will not get away with ethical lapses, she said.

In a message the mayor sent to Chicago police officers, she wrote: “While I recognize this news comes as a surprise to most of you, this was a decision I felt was absolutely necessary to preserve the legitimacy and honor of the Chicago Police Department. I deeply respect the work that each of you undertake every day and you deserve a Superintendent who lives up to the ideals that I expect each of you to exemplify.”

* Uh-oh…


- Posted by Rich Miller        

48 Comments »
  1. - Soccermom - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 11:58 am:

    ‘Mayor Lightfoot said there is additional information about Johnson’s conduct that she is not revealing “out of deference to his wife and children.”’

    That’s a shady thing to say. If you’re not going to mention it, don’t mention it. This faux concern is unbecoming.


  2. - Long Time R - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 12:04 pm:

    She has zero experience running government. Wether he was right or wrong mentioning his Family will surely come back to haunt her. She just seems to shoot from the hip way to often.


  3. - Steve - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 12:04 pm:

    President Trump comes to town and bad mouths Eddie Johnson and now this?


  4. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 12:07 pm:

    Rank amateurs. You never go in front of cameras and mics and not have one whole story… during an ongoing investigation that you have NO idea where it goes. All it did was blow up in Mayor Lightfoot’s face, then she chooses to use cryptic words… while claiming to shield the family. Utterly unprofessional, petty, immature, and when Lightfoot realized ya don’t do what she she did, again, the blame is on someone else.

    For me, this was the *whole* ball game when poor Eddie Johnson had to stand there, watch someone be named “interim” while still on the payroll. Why they didn’t make this a holiday news dump? Amateurs, plain and simple. Sad, really. Be better.

    I mean, seriously, you make the guy haveta eat that he still is there, w/an interim, how about you do a solid *after* that and announce on Wednesday at 4pm “he’s leaving early”. Nope. Another presser. Amateurs, and frankly, embarrassing folks isn’t how you should run a railroad.

    This 5th Floor is a confusing lot. They know they don’t need to look foolish or make others look foolish too, right? This whole fiasco has a Keystone Kops feel, with today I felt, woulda been better as a news dump, now culminates with another presser. It’s… dumbfounding.

    So… to recap;

    The Mayor has a presser, while an investigation is ongoing to something, to heap praise on someone, and then, in *another* presser, the interim is announced while the subject of the current investigation is still… on the payroll…

    … to later find out “something else”, but instead of dropping this during a holiday weekend… no, let’s have a presser, a third one, this time to stave off her own embarrassing ways, you cryptically say something… to “shield the family”

    I’ve yet to see a more grossly inept crew handle their business, even IF it’s the mayor’s fault, then this bunch.


  5. - @misterjayem - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 12:12 pm:

    Waitaminute– You’re telling me a Chicago cop was willing to lie to cover up his own misdeeds?

    Oh, come on.

    Next your gonna tell me Santa doesn’t bring all my Christmas presents down the chimney…

    – MrJM


  6. - Huh? - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 12:13 pm:

    Johnson did have a story that wasn’t exactly consistent. First it was a change in medication, then a few drinks at dinner, now it is a missed dose of medicine.


  7. - Jocko - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 12:14 pm:

    ==Mr. Johnson engaged in a series of ethical lapses that are intolerable.==

    I don’t see a lot of people in the future lining up to be on Mayor ‘holier-than-thou’ Lightfoot’s staff…especially if these pressers becomes SOP.


  8. - Rocky Rossi - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 12:16 pm:

    She is very green when it comes to politics. Why bring his family into this? I dont understand her leadership style. How will other people trust her now?


  9. - Another Regular Dem - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 12:20 pm:

    I’m with OW and Soccermom. Do better.


  10. - Chicago Cynic - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 12:22 pm:

    This was predictable and is why her presser praising the hell out of him made no sense at the time. Do that (let him retire gracefully) or do this. Don’t do both.

    Amateur hour.


  11. - Montrose - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 12:23 pm:

    I am thinking that both things are right. That Johnson needed to be fired and Lightfoot handled it all very poorly.


  12. - Responsa - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 12:36 pm:

    Wowsa. That is all. Nothing like giving a big green light and dropping bread crumbs to the media to tempt them to ferret out the “other” conduct issues, Lori.


  13. - SSL - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 12:37 pm:

    Mayor Lightweight strikes again. Maybe she was afraid of taking heat later if she didn’t cast him out.

    It could have been handled better, but what else is new?


  14. - Zman - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 12:40 pm:

    ==Supervisors in the police department will not get away with ethical lapses==

    It sounds good but this is a tough standard to set for her administration - especially if she applies it beyond the police department. Looks like the call out culture is alive and well at City Hall.


  15. - Amalia - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 12:47 pm:

    you too messed up, Mayor. with your handling of the situation when it happened. and today with a needless comment about the man’s personal life. who works for you?


  16. - gone but not forgotten - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 1:01 pm:

    If misleading the people of Chicago is criteria for firing, a look should be taken at the State Attorney for Cook County for the handling of the Smollett incident. That was egregiously misleading, as well as costly to all of Cook County.


  17. - Rod - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 1:03 pm:

    I have no doubt Mayor Lightfoot found ethical lapses in former Superintendent Johnson’s record including his explanation for essentially passing out at a stop sign. But for her to go as far as she did and then say she would go not further in describing those lapses out of deference to Johnson’s wife and children is particularly disturbing.

    One can only imagine what will appear on the second city police blog within the next few days. The CPD is one monster rumor mill and this will not help.


  18. - City Zen - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 1:13 pm:

    Eddie’s looking at a pension close to $200,000. He’ll be just fine.


  19. - iamthepita - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 1:20 pm:

    I agree with soccermom and OswegoWilly and I couldn’t see how one can say they’re not mentioning anything further to protect one’s family is anything consistent with her own rhetoric of “The old Chicago way must give way to new way”…


  20. - Teve Demotte - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 1:20 pm:

    To say Mayor Lightfoot mishandled this situation is an under-statement. The “out of deference to his wife and children” comment was totally uncalled for. It implies something untoward or tawdry. I don’t know what Eddie Johnson did or what he said to the Mayor. I do feel that the Mayor basically destroyed this man’s reputation publicly and for what purpose? He was leaving anyway? Eddie Johnson had one of the toughest jobs in the U.S. The amount of stress and pressure he was under was huge. I am not apologizing for whatever Eddie Johnson did or said. All I am saying is that Mayor Lightfoot was wrong to publicly humiliate Eddie Johnson. To me there was a more humane and professional way to handle this situation.


  21. - ILPundit - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 1:31 pm:

    He lied to the mayor, said it was no big deal. She trusted him. He burnt her, so she toasts him publicly. It doesn’t sound like he fessed up and asked to leave quietly. Lots of pearl clutching here. She did not ruin eddie j’s reputation, he did.


  22. - Think before you speak - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 1:36 pm:

    Willy—your lack of sophistication or understanding of Chicago politics and/or media could fill an entire blog. Stick with Springfield.


  23. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 1:40 pm:

    === Lots of pearl clutching here.===

    I can care less… about Mr. Johnson.

    To the politics and press handling by this mayor?

    She had a presser, two of them, one lauding a man who was still under an investigation. The mayor and her crew did that.

    They then had a presser, no matter what was found out about Johnson, with him in attendance with an interim, while he’s still *on* the payroll… and under an investigation.

    Now? To save face, they have a third presser, don’t bury any of this, which gives the mayor to look like a prized fool… to snidely take a personal swipe for someone she feels personally hurt her.

    No one, not ONE person, told her to handle her media/press business as she did, to make herself look foolish.

    Amateurs try to think having pressers during confusing times… makes sense.

    Arguably the best example of the worse way to handle an unknown was the Friday Fiasco by Dan Rutherford.

    You can’t… can’t go in front of mics and behind a podium and say things you have no idea how it’ll play.


  24. - Big Gom - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 1:41 pm:

    Sometimes public humiliation is warranted.


  25. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 1:42 pm:

    === your lack of sophistication or understanding of Chicago politics===

    You think this went well?

    LOL

    I don’t think anyone is saying this was textbook.

    Please, explain how “great” this was… to Chicago politics.

    I’d like to read that.


  26. - Soccermom - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 1:42 pm:

    ILPundit — I’d have a lot more respect for the Mayor if she simply said out loud, very clearly, whatever it is that Johnson did. This was a passive aggressive Parthian shot. (Why, yes, I do have a humanities degree. Why do you ask?)


  27. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 1:44 pm:

    === Sometimes public humiliation is warranted.===

    No. The reason in this very specific instance is this mayor decided twice to hold pressers… while an ongoing investigation was going on… and it backfired on her miserably.

    So? So, the mayor decided to be petty.

    In the end, no one told this mayor or press office to handle it this way from the beginning. So, it’s on them. They chose to be petty… and I’m not defending the guy. The press stuff is what it is.


  28. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 1:46 pm:

    === I’d have a lot more respect for the Mayor if she simply said out loud, very clearly, whatever it is that Johnson did.===

    Same.

    How things are done are as important as what is done.


  29. - chicago police - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 1:48 pm:

    Yes the mayor commits one mistake after another and she shouldn’t but does on a daily basis. Further she is inexperience in her position. However, it seems that is who we want on Election Day. More and more people seems to elect people who are not long term career political people. As we tend to know that these folks do that, we also accept it. Trump makes one dumb action after another daily. He also has no government experience either, but as we jump all over the Mayor for dumb things she says or does, be fair in doing so with others who participate in similar behavior


  30. - Amalia - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 1:52 pm:

    so the next time someone is found passed out in their car, in that situation, you will handle it the same way, Mayor? cause based on what I heard from jump, I would have fired him. not a need for a big IG investigation, just standard HR protocol which can result in immediate firing. I’m not concerned about his reputation. I’m concerned at how you waste time managing.


  31. - Because I said so.... - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 2:21 pm:

    Early December seems to be a bad time for CPD Superintendents. McCarthy got the boot on 12/1/15 and now Johnson on 12/2/19.


  32. - Just Observing - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 2:34 pm:

    She can’t even thank him for his years of service?


  33. - Wensicia - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 2:37 pm:

    Lightfoot overreacted because she was lied to by a city supervisor, in Chicago? She needs to develop a thicker skin going forward.


  34. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 2:39 pm:

    === She can’t even thank him for his years of service?===

    That was the *first* presser. The mayor lauded and praised… with an ongoing investigation continuing.

    The mayor looks foolish now, so now the thing is to make remarks that are left-handedly “protecting” Johnson’s wife and family.

    Petty is indeed gonna petty.

    Next time? Next time don’t have a presser with an ongoing investigation.

    With respect.


  35. - JP Altgeld - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 2:44 pm:

    Though failing to draw accolades from the most important viewpoint in the Chicago political milieu, OW, the Mayor did appear to have done the right thing in the eyes of her biggest council opponent:

    “Ald. Ray Lopez (15th), the mayor’s most outspoken City Council critic, said if the facts are “as bad as what she insinuated,” Lightfoot was “100 percent right” to fire him on the spot.”


  36. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 2:47 pm:

    - JP Altgeld -

    What was the other option, keep him on?

    The end versus this process is the thing for me.

    Either way, he was going. To say it’s been done well since jump street is laughable.

    But, it is what it is.


  37. - Rudy's teeth - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 3:12 pm:

    To borrow from Mayor Daley’s lexicon, Eddie Johnson’s activities were scrootened.


  38. - thoughts matter - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 3:13 pm:

    ==Eddie’s looking at a pension close to $200,000==

    Serious question- does he? He’s being fired for cause. does he still get the pension? Because truthfully I think it’s bad to take a pension away because of this.


  39. - Pundent - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 3:20 pm:

    =the Mayor did appear to have done the right thing in the eyes of her biggest council opponent=

    Yes. But not being content with that she decided to take this to a different level by being petty, alluding to behavior beyond what’s been publicly disclosed, and using his family as an excuse for being less than transparent. A lack of class all the way around.


  40. - Thomas Paine - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 3:28 pm:

    Let’s all be clear that the mayor is not firing Johnson because the truth is sacrosanct.

    This mayor told us something different every single day of the teacher’s strike.

    This mayor is firing Johnson not because he drank and got behind the wheel of a city vehicle, which she knew full well when she stood with him at two press conferences. That alone would have been grounds for termination.

    She is firing him for something else he did that would have been/will be politically embarrassing.


  41. - Regular democrat - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 3:46 pm:

    She is trying to change the culture of an organization that really needs it. This was , unorthodox perhaps, but necessary


  42. - crazybleedingheart - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 4:01 pm:

    ==She is trying to change the culture of an organization that really needs it.==

    Did you write your letter to Santa yet?


  43. - The Most Anonymous - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 4:03 pm:

    I was hoping the Chicago press would finally dig a little deeper on this and the angle Thomas Paine highlighted. But then I saw this and lost hope: https://twitter.com/royalpratt/status/1201594455796649984?s=12
    Can we please get a Mark Maxwell in the Chicago market?


  44. - Leslie K - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 4:48 pm:

    ===I’m with OW and Soccermom. Do better.===

    I second that. On so many issues, she says stuff and then has to say different stuff. In this case, she ‘quietly’ fired him–forced him to resign. And if the investigation is on-going, let it play out. Don’t childishly “hint” at some deeper thing and claim you are protecting the family. If it is part of the investigation, its going to come out. You aren’t protecting them. You are scared of the report, acting like a child, and trying to make yourself a victim somehow. Grow up and run the City, please.


  45. - Ok, Boomer - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 5:11 pm:

    So how long until the video comes out? It is just a matter of time, right? I am sure the FOIAs have been sent…


  46. - Franklin Park Mayor - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 8:00 pm:

    Can anyone provide a link to the original story explaining what Eddie Johnson did that was inappropriate?


  47. - Responsa - Monday, Dec 2, 19 @ 11:32 pm:

    All the Chicago TV stations led their broadcasts tonight with at least part of “the rest of the story” with respect to Eddie’s bad night last Oct.


  48. - Frank M. - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 10:43 am:

    Mr. Johnson was intentionally dishonest with me,, really, if your going to fire him, you have 50 alderman that need to be looked at too


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