CHICAGO (CBS) — On his first full day as interim Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson hit the ground running.
Johnson sat down with CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley to talk about his plan for reducing crime, police misconduct and the surprise call from City Hall that put him in charge.READ MORE: Jensen Elementary Mother Dies From COVID-19 After Daughter Exposed At School
Johnson said he didnât see the call from the mayor coming.
âIt was a bit overwhelming,â he said.
On his very first day in a job he never sought, Eddie Johnson told reporters he’s never witnessed police wrongdoing first hand, not once in 27 years on the job.
âI’ve actually never encountered police misconduct, cause you got to understand, officers that commit misconduct don’t do it in front of people that they think are going to hold them accountable for it,â Johnson said. âNow that I’m sitting in this chair, if I come across it, I will deal with it accordingly.â
It was the unrest after the Laquan McDonald shooting that eroded community confidence, something Johnson says must be rebuilt.
âI think the relationship is fractured but I also thing we can regain their trust and that’s what I’m aiming to do,â Johnson said.
But Johnson said he must also re-energize street cops, put on the defensive by weeks of controversy.READ MORE: Woman Struck And Killed When Car Jumps Curb, Hits Building In Gresham
âThe officers right now are confused a little bit,â he said. âThey’re hurt. They went from being right about everything to now being under enormous scrutiny, and not just in Chicago, that’s across the country.â
He says itâs officersâ duty to tell the truth even when things go wrong.
âI’m gonna put some things in place to ensure they do feel they can admit honest mistakes,â Johnson said. âOne thing I’ve learned over the years is a cover-up is always, always worse than an incident, always. So if they do make a mistake, own it, fix it.â
Johnson said itâs his job to root out the so-called âcode of silenceâ if it is there but draws a sharp distinction between intentional misconduct and honest mistakes.
âIt’s when they make honest mistakes that they need me,â he said. âSo if they make honest mistakes, we’ll get them training and get them on the back on the right trackâ¦ but all officers out there, if they see misconduct, they’re obligated to report it.â
Johnson said he’ll run the department independent of City Hall, listening for community input every step of the way.
âThe politics of things going on in Chicago, I don’t do that,â he said. âThe one thing I do know how to do is be a cop and I know how to listen to people and that’s what we need right now.âMORE NEWS: Cook County Gives $200,000 Grant To Social Service Agency Lawrence Hall
Meantime, Johnson intends to go citywide to do what he did as a district commander, listen to citizens and community leaders to get their ideas and input for fighting crime. The cops, he says, can’t win this battle this alone.