Johnson says he’s ‘toying with’ retirement; Sources say he will be gone by end of the year

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CHICAGO — Chicago police Supt. Eddie Johnson admitted Monday that he has been “toying with” retirement “for some time.”

Johnson made these comments to reporters at City Hall during a break in the Police Department’s 2020 budget hearing.

He did not say he is definitely retiring, just that he’s thinking about it. And he said the timing has absolutely nothing to do with the inspector general’s investigation of him after he was found slumped over in his car last month.

Johnson didn’t give any clues about when he might make a decision about retirement but sources at City Hall told WGN News late Monday that Johnson before the end of the year.

In April Johnson's superintendent pension will be fully vested. But Johnson said that has nothing to do with his decision and it's never been about the money for him.

The source also told WGN News, the CPD Deputy Chiefs have been trying to build caucus support at City Council lobbying members for the superintendent job.

One source said Mayor Lori Lightfoot is likely to go outside CPD for a replacement.

Back in 2016, she was the chair of the police board and tasked with putting forward three finalists for the job of police superintendent. Two of them were outsiders.

In response to Johnson’s comments, Lightfoot released a statement that said, "We are in ongoing conversations with Superintendent Johnson and CPD leadership regarding the Department's strategic plan for the new year and how we can best build on our successes of this past summer into 2020."

At the budget hearing earlier in the day, Johnson said he’s grateful for his time in Chicago, a city he loves.

“Former Mayor Rahm Emmanuel probably said it best when he said these are jobs of a lifetime but they’re not jobs for a lifetime,” Johnson said.

Johnson said since returning from London with his family last month, he is now toying with the idea of retirement. It was his first vacation since becoming superintendent.

“That London trip really made me realize, especially for them, how much I’ve given to the city and how much I’ve taken away from them,” he said. “That made me think about it because I owe it to them also.”

And those weren’t the only tough questions he faced today while aldermen questioned him about police spending.

Lightfoot is proposing to increase CPD’s budget by more than 7 percent next year. The department is on track to spend $141 million on overtime this year.

Aldermen said they don’t want to see any cuts to community policing. Many sang the superintendent’s praises and said violent crime is down in their wards.

 

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