Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson discusses mayoral race, ongoing gun violence

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson will be watching the mayoral race very closely. That's because one candidate has already said she would replace him if elected.

Supt. Johnson has been Chicago's top cop for over three years. He never applied for the job and was handpicked by Mayor Emanuel.

In his short time in charge, Supt. Johnson has faced the pressure of bringing Chicago’s crime numbers down and trying to rebuild community relations, while undergoing a kidney transplant and getting married. 

It's been a year and a half since his transplant. His son, Daniel was the donor. Daniel is now a patrolman at the 6th District.

"That's my old district,” said Supt. Johnson. “I was actually there for 10 years and then I went back as a commander, so yeah, that's actually home for me.”

Just last week, the 6th District lost 23-year-old Officer John Rivera. He was shot and killed while off-duty sitting in a car with friends in River North. Rivera worked with Daniel.

"Those officers that were in Rivera’s class their suffering right now,” said Supt. Johnson.

Daniel graduated from the police academy in August of last year.

“I'm conflicted about it,” said Supt. Johnson. “I'm proud of him but I know how dangerous this job can be too. So, I do as a parent worry about him but I also know that he can handle himself."

Even before he became a police officer, Supt. Johnson knew too well about Chicago violence. He grew up in the notorious Cabrini Green housing project. He became a Chicago police officer in 1988.

It was his years of service that played a role in his appointment as superintendent, but it also drew criticism from skeptics who called him an insider. However, he's committed to making a difference.

"In 2016, we had the highest amount of gun violence we have had in like 20 years,” he said. "We are down 44 percent in murders. 24 percent in overall shootings. Those are huge numbers. It's not a cause for celebration, but we are clearly heading in the right direction."

Supt. Johnson knows that won't happen without the help of the community. Specifically, the African American community. Many of whom have lost trust in the department.

"We work for the community and the community has to have a voice on how they are policed,” he said.

He knows that will take time and trust. He also knows his days may be numbered.

Mayoral candidate Toni Preckwinkle has already said she will get rid of Supt. Johnson if elected. But Lori Lightfoot has stated she is not so quick to make that decision.

"I love this city and I love this department, but I know what it takes to bring this city together,” Supt. Johnson said. I feel like I am a pro athlete that's been doing this for a while and you still have a few things you want to do and that’s where I am. So, of course, I didn't ask for the job but now that' I’m here, I really believe this is where I’m supposed to be."