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Traveling CPD Supt. Eddie Johnson misses this week’s ‘Accountability Monday’ meeting with Lightfoot that’s the best yet

Lightfoot says she has no problem with Johnson’s travel; summer vacations and professional development are, she said, entirely different things.

Chicago Police Department Supt. Eddie Johnson
Police Supt. Eddie Johnson, shown at a news conference last year, is to meet with Department of Justice officials in Washington on Monday.
Colin Boyle/ Chicago Sun-Times

This week’s installment of what Mayor Lori Lightfoot likes to call “Accountability Monday” went on without Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson — and it was the best one yet.

A first weekend of summer that ends with “only” four people dead and 20 shot is considered good news in Chicago. That’s how relentless gang violence has been in this city.

So Lightfoot went into this week’s installment pretty pleased with how things went. It was the least bloody weekend Chicago has experienced since she took office.

“We had a relatively — and it’s obviously a caveat — good numbers over the weekend. But we’re gonna continue to push forward,” the mayor said.

“Part of the reason I have these ‘Accountability Monday’ sessions is to make sure that our Police Department recognizes that I care, that I’m paying attention, that I’m out there and that I’m gonna support them, of course. But I’m also gonna hold them accountable.”

Lightfoot acknowledged a lot of people are probably going “to speculate as to why we’re doing fine.” She acknowledged being “very careful” about using that term because, “I frankly don’t want to jinx it.”

“But a lot of it is because we are saying, `You must come in and you must give account for what’s happening in your districts.’ It’s not just gonna be same old, same old with nobody looking, no accountability as it has been in the past,” she said.

“We can’t build libraries, we can’t do economic development, we can’t strengthen neighborhood schools … if people are pinned down with fear in their homes. So I’m gonna keep pushing our Police Department in every way that I can.”

Johnson is in Washington, D.C., for the third leg of a four-part series of recent trips. He has criss-crossed the country over the last week for meetings his office called “central to CPD’s policy and crime-fighting agenda.”

The first trip saw Johnson travel to Philadelphia for the Major Cities Chiefs’ Association Executive Leadership meeting. There, Johnson spoke on “policing issues,” his staff said, without disclosing the specific topic.

After that, Johnson went to New Orleans for a meeting on officer morale and suicide, a subject that, unfortunately, hits close to home.

The third and fourth meetings will take Johnson to Washington twice this week. On Monday, he was in the capital for what his staff called a “series of prosecutorial meetings” with the Department of Justice and the Police Executive Research Forum.

Johnson was to return to Chicago on Tuesday, only to turn around and go back to Washington on Thursday to address “all 93 United States attorneys” and participate in “discussions around gun control, criminal investigations and effective partnerships with prosecutors,” his staff said.

Earlier this month, Lightfoot publicly dressed down First Deputy Superintendent Anthony Riccio for taking a family vacation to Aruba during the first week of June. Though authorized and paid for in October, it defied the mayor’s edict that no top brass take time off during the summer.

A few days later, Lightfoot said the controversy was “over for now” and that she was “ready to move forward” after hearing Riccio’s explanation.

Given that earlier controversy, the mayor was asked whether Lightfoot has any problem with Johnson’s travel at a time when she wants all hands on deck to stop the traditional summer surge of violent crime.

The answer was a resounding “No.”

“He’s out of town for what I would call professional development purposes. This happens to be the time when there are several conferences that are nationwide,” she said.

“I would expect, as is the case, that the superintendent of the second-largest police force in the country would be in attendance. He’s a leader in many of those conferences and he needs to be present. There’s a good thing that happens with professional development, learning best practices from other cities. So it’s important that he is present.”