You are on page 1of 3


December 2, 2019

Mayor’s Press Office


Good morning.

Today, I am announcing that I have terminated Eddie Johnson’s employment as the

Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department for cause, effective immediately.

Upon reviewing the materials as to Eddie Johnson of the Inspector General’s

ongoing investigation regarding the events of October 16th and the early morning
hours of October 17th and thereafter, it has become clear that Mr. Johnson engaged
in a series of actions that are intolerable for any leader in a position of trust,
particularly the head of the Chicago Police Department.

This is obviously not a decision that I entered into lightly. However, the
circumstances demanded this action.

There are three reasons for this decision. First, the findings of the Inspector
General’s report regarding Mr. Johnson, which I recently reviewed, makes clear that
Eddie Johnson engaged in conduct that is not only unbecoming, but demonstrated a
series of ethical lapses and flawed decision-making that is inconsistent with having
the privilege of leading the Chicago Police Department.

Second, Johnson intentionally misled the public in a press conference, he called on

October 17, 2019. He was not caught off guard and he had plenty of time to choose
his words. And the choice he made was to communicate a narrative replete with
false statements, all seemingly intended to hide the true nature of his conduct the
evening before.

Finally, just like with the public, Eddie Johnson intentionally lied to me, several
times, even when I challenged him about the narrative that he shared with me. He
maintained that he was telling the truth. I now know definitely that he was not. Had
I known these facts at the time, I would have relieved him of his duties as
superintendent then and there. I certainly would not have participated in a
celebratory press conference to announce his retirement. Mr. Johnson failed the
hardworking members of the Chicago Police Department, he intentionally misled
the people of Chicago, and he intentionally misled me. And none of that is

I have been advised by the Inspector General that his investigation as to others
remains ongoing. I will not comment today on specific details as they relate to Mr.
Johnson. While at some point the IG’s report may become public and those details
may be revealed I don’t feel that it is appropriate or fair to Mr. Johnson’s wife or
children to do so at this time.

I hope we can all take care to treat them with dignity and respect. This moment
needs to be a turning point for the way things are done in this city and in the Police

As for the department, yesterday, today, and tomorrow has to be about culture
change. And that must start at the top. That hard, but important work is impossible
without strong leadership, focused on integrity, legitimacy, and accountability. Time
and again, line police officers are held accountable for their actions, but their
supervisors get a pass, even when the supervisors were aware of or directed the
conduct at issue.

Perhaps in years past, someone in Mr. Johnson’s circumstances would have been
allowed to quietly retire. Doing so today and in these circumstances, would have
been inconsistent with who I am and with the kind of principled leadership I want to
bring to the city.

None of us are perfect and we all make mistakes. But in public life we must be
honest and accountable for our actions and we must strive to do better every day.
When there are ethical mistakes, lapses in judgment, particularly in a position of
trust like the superintendent of police, then it is incumbent upon me and all of us to
ensure accountability.

That’s why I have decided to take this clear and decisive action today. The old
Chicago way, must give way to the new reality. Ethical leadership, integrity,
accountability and legitimacy must be the hallmarks of city government. Let there
be no mistake about the message I am sending today.

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.
And to achieve the reform and accountability in the department that we know is
urgently needed, we require a leader whose actions reflect the virtues of integrity,
honor and legitimacy – the touchstones of what it takes to have the privilege of
being 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.

At this time, I will take your questions.