Mayor Lori Lightfoot continues to set the bar high for showing complete disdain and disregard for the law enforcement community.
Rather than allowing him to retire in 29 days, she fired police Superintendent Eddie Johnson effective immediately Monday for what she claims was intentionally misleading her and the public about his conduct when he was found asleep in his running vehicle at a stop sign after a late weeknight out in October.
“This moment needs to be a turning point for the Chicago Police Department and the way things are done in this city,” said Lightfoot, emphasizing that “culture change” must take place.
The stunning announcement came just weeks after Lightfoot held what she referred to as “a celebratory press conference” to announce Johnson’s retirement by year’s end after about 3 ½ years at the helm.
“It’s time for someone else to pin these four stars to their shoulders,” an emotional Johnson, flanked by his family and Mayor Lori Lightfoot, told reporters. “These stars can sometimes feel like carrying the weight of the world.”
Former Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck, previously named Johnson’s interim successor, was on a flight to Chicago and would immediately take control of the beleaguered department, Lightfoot told reporters.
“He’ll be here this afternoon,” she said.
The mayor said she personally delivered the news to Johnson Monday morning. She gave three reasons for dumping him:
— That he “engaged in conduct that is not only unbecoming but demonstrated a series of ethical lapses and flawed decision-making” in the incident in October.
— That the superintendent called a news conference later the day of the incident in which he communicated “a narrative replete with false statements, all seemingly intended to hide the true nature of his conduct from the evening before.”
— That Johnson intentionally lied to the mayor 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 definitively that he was not,” she said. “A lie is a lie. He told me something that happened that night that turned out to be fundamentally different than what he portrayed to me and what he portrayed to the members of the public.”
BREAKING: Mayor Lori Lightfoot has fired Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson.
She says he "intentionally misled" the people of Chicago after he was found slumped over in his car in October. pic.twitter.com/aVwuqUbzG0
— Tim McNicholas (@TimMcNicholas) December 2, 2019
Johnson’s take on his honesty:
“When I came on this job, I came on with my honor, my integrity, and my reputation — if someone accused me of doing anything that would circumvent that then I would want my day in court to clear my name,” Johnson said.
Lightfoot has not been known for her staunch support of the CPD.
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She started off her reign as a city leader by saying that Chicago cops were racist. And then while attacks rain down on police, she keeps quiet.
“CPD officers are racist and have no respect for the lives and experiences of people of color and approach every encounter with people of color as if the person, regardless of age, gender, or circumstance, is a criminal,” Lori Lightfoot’s report said.
Here’s another prime example.
Last month, an electronic sign on Lake Shore Drive near Soldier Field was changed to read “Kill Cops” — during rush hour traffic, and right next to a memorial for the fallen.
Guess who didn’t say a word?
Then, making matters worse, she called the head of the local police union a “clown” in public. It’s no wonder the city is having a huge problem with recruiting and retaining officers.
As she took the over the mayoral reins in Chicago, her first edict was to dump the Chicago Police security detail that has protected Chicago’s mayors for decades.
Her security team will be headed by James Smith, a former United States Marshal and will consist of officers from the U.S. Marshals and other law enforcement departments outside the CPD. What role Chicago Police will play in the future protection of Chicago’s mayor is unknown at this time.
These uncharted waters create new challenges for the detail; do they hold the correct certifications to work as law enforcement agents in Illinois and Chicago?
Are they indemnified through the city in civil actions taken against them? Is their collective experience sufficient to protect an individual in unfamiliar surroundings?
Are they given police powers in a municipality that they do not work for? All interesting and intriguing questions.
Perhaps the most captivating question is why she would make such an unusual move that clearly disenfranchise a thirteen thousand-member force of police officers dedicated to the protection of the City of Chicago.
Besides the complicated legal questions involved and the simple operational needs that will be wanting, what is the back-story of such an egregious move.
Lightfoot was the President of the Chicago Police Board that had final decisions of major disciplinary actions against officers that found themselves in violation of department rules. She held the right of firing officers she deemed in violation of her standards.
Before the police disciplinary job, Lightfoot was a federal prosecutor.
Ironically, close to 20 years ago, she was formally reprimanded for “professional misconduct” by an esteemed federal appeals judge who found that she had misled another judge in a botched extradition case. The reprimand raised questions about whether prosecutors had abused their power.
The situation created enough alarm that then-U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno sent a contrite letter to the judge who’d written the reprimand, calling what happened “unfortunate” and vowing changes. Reno opened an internal investigation that eventually cleared Lightfoot.
The episodes from earlier in her career contrast with the more recent police reform roles that elevated her into the political spotlight.
While other mayoral candidates seemed to have taken up the mantle of police reform, Lightfoot said her record showed that she was the mayoral candidate who could be counted on to curb law enforcement abuses.
“There’s been nobody in the city that’s been a more vocal, persistent, demanding advocate for police reform and accountability than I have,” Lightfoot said in an interview prior to her election win.
Notice that nowhere in her comments does she mention being an ardent supporter of the men and women who do their damnedest to serve and protect the city of Chicago.
Perhaps that is no accident.
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