By John Dempsey, WLS-AM News
(CHICAGO) Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson was on WLS this morning, talking about Mayor Emanuel’s multi-faceted crime-fighting strategy. Johnson told “The Big John and Ray Show” that he agrees with Emanuel that while the city more needs police officers , police are not the only answer. “You know these extra officers and the police in general, you know we’re a piece of this puzzle but not the entire puzzle. The violence in our city and the crime overall is a result of socio-economic ills , not the police department. So we have to fix the other parts of it in order for this crime to come down, but I will say this, the additional officers will give us a bit of relief.”
Listen to Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson on WLS’ Big John and Ray Show here.
In his long awaited crime control speech Thursday night, Emanuel pledged to hire more officers, but was not clear on how the city would pay for them. Johnson told WLS he does not have that answer either, but he says he’s not supposed to. “You know, I fight crime” Johnson said, “At the end of the day you know, I am a cop. So that’s what I do, so the financial part of it you know, I’ll leave it to the Mayor and his smart people over there at the hall. He has assured me that we’ll have those resources but how they’re paying for it, I couldn’t tell you.”
In his speech at Malcolm X college, Emanuel also talked about implementing a three year mentoring program to provide support to over 7,000 at-risk youth in Chicago. The Mayor also called on Illinois lawmakers to toughen penalties for gun crimes, something black lawmakers from Chicago have thwarted in the past, out of concern that harsher gun laws would unfairly target African-Americans.
Eddie Johnson told WLS he is currently talking with those lawmakers about drafting a law that would address the real need the city has to make sure repeat offenders are kept behind bars for longer periods of time. “I think that the legislators are coming around now because before we didn’t have concealed carry and you know the sentencing that I’m looking for is not mandatory. It’s focused at repeat gun offenders so that’s not casting a net over the minority population. It’s more like using a spear to focus on the guys that are consistently telling us they don’t want to play by the rules of society. The way we want it to go is that repeat gun offenders would be sentenced on the mid to high end range of sentencing as opposed to giving them lighter sentences.”
During the WLS interview, Johnson admitted that police morale has suffered in recent months. “We swore an oath to protect the citizens of Chicago and I see the rank and file doing that, however I will say this; the level of disrespect and then just the scrutiny going on across the country in terms of law enforcement is tough. They are keenly aware of that and no one wants to be the next viral video and let’s face facts. They’re human, they have families to take care of and careers so they are aware of what’s going on but they are still engaged and our gun arrests bear that out, but they are concerned about what’s going on.”
Johnson ended the interview by saying he has no regrets about taking the Superintendent’s job, despite the pressure and stress. “You know I enjoy my job. I have a chance to make real change and impact the citizens of Chicago for the better and also the rank and file, so I love what I do.”
@ 2016 WLS-AM News