Chicago's top cop talks to FOX 32, describes 2017: 'Inspiring'

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson talked about his goals Thursday for 2018, as well as touted some reductions in crime in 2017.

Johnson says the police department is on the right track.

In one word, 2017 was… "Inspiring. And I say that because when you look at where we came from in 2016, the gains we made in terms of gun violence, and restoring the public's faith in the CPD,” Johnson said.

Two years ago, Johnson took over a department in crisis, under attack for excessive force against minorities and so much violent crime that the city earned the nickname "Chiraq." 

On Thursday, in his fifth floor office at police headquarters, Johnson had some good news for a change.

"I didn't think we would see it this quickly,” he said.

With just days remaining in 2017, there have been 116 fewer murders in Chicago than last year, a drop of 15 percent. And the number of shootings is down even more – 21 percent.

Johnson credits renewed community engagement, tougher sentencing laws and new technology in some of the city's most violent police districts.

"Shot spotter technology, lab technology, pod cameras and smart phones in the hands of every officer in those districts. And that gave those district commanders the ability to make better real time decisions and look at where crime might occur,” Johnson said.

Not all the news is good. Carjackings have skyrocketed across the city, which Johnson blames on insufficient juvenile sentencing laws -- something he'd like to address in 2018.

Another goal next year: more cops on the street.

"We'll be finishing up our two year hiring plan. And that plan will grow the department by roughly a thousand officers,” Johnson said.

2017 was also an eventful year for Johnson personally: a successful kidney transplant -- that kidney donated by his son, who's now a Chicago police recruit.

"I feel great. I'm 51 pounds down from where I was this time last year. I had the transplant, everything is going great with that so I feel good,” Johnson said.

Chicago police also made 27-percent more gun arrests in 2017 and seized over 86-hundred illegal guns. That new technology, which appeared to drive down crime in six districts this year, will be deployed in six more districts in 2018.

Johnson had one more reason to celebrate in 2017 -- he got married.