CHICAGO — Eddie Johnson, who took over Chicago’s police department at a time of cratering public confidence and a spike in homicides, will announce his retirement on Thursday. Superintendent Johnson, a native of Chicago who spent his entire career in the department, stabilized a city and a department that were in crisis after the murder of Laquan McDonald, a black teenager who was shot 16 times by a white officer.
Superintendent Johnson was scheduled to hold a news conference with Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Thursday morning. His decision to retire was confirmed by Anthony Guglielmi, a Police Department spokesman.
Chicago becomes the latest in a series of large cities this year to see turnover at the top of its police department. The Philadelphia police commissioner abruptly resigned in August, the chief in Charlotte, N.C., announced plans to step down and a new commissioner was appointed this week in New York City.
During more than three years in charge of the country’s second-largest municipal police force, Superintendent Johnson led an overhaul in training, introduced more restrictive rules for when officers could use force and guided the department into a court-enforced consent decree. After a dramatic rise in homicides early in his tenure, the murder rate had steadily dropped.
But the superintendent faced mounting problems, especially in recent weeks. He requested an investigation of himself last month after being found asleep in a parked S.U.V. late at night. Superintendent Johnson blamed the episode on medication, but Chicago’s mayor later said he had been drinking that evening. Days later, the superintendent lost a vote of no-confidence by leaders of the city’s main police union.
The superintendent’s departure leaves the city and its new mayor, Ms. Lightfoot, facing difficult choices on what type of leader to select for a department that has faced intense criticism over crime levels but also distrust from residents.
After video of the shooting of Laquan McDonald was released in late 2015, protesters marched for weeks, the city’s top police official was fired and a national search for a new superintendent ended with a political stalemate. Superintendent Johnson had not applied for the top job, but eventually was tapped.
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