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Supt. Eddie Johnson: CPD leadership will examine all police shootings

Police Supt. Eddie Johnson spoke at a City Club lunch. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Chicago Police Department leadership will soon review each instance in which an officer uses force to look for ways “we can do better,” Supt. Eddie Johnson announced Tuesday.

The examinations will not mean additional discipline against officers, Johnson said, adding that all of the department’s nearly 13,000 sworn members will receive “force mitigation training” by the end of 2018.

“What we can do is look at each of those incidents internally and see if there’s training issues, equipment issues, or just tactical issues that we can do better,” Johnson told reporters after giving a speech at the City Club of Chicago. “And we’re going to look at it quickly so that it doesn’t fester.”

Johnson touched on several areas during his 45-minute appearance at the City Club, including how private businesses can help in the crime fight, CPD working with private security companies, and local prosecutors’ use of the RICO Act to fight gang violence.

Overall, Johnson painted an optimistic picture, once again pointing to significant drops in shootings in the Harrison and Englewood police districts — two of the city’s most historically violent — when the city saw gun violence totals not reached since the mid-1990s.

As of April 8, the city had recorded 116 murders and 462 shooting incidents so far this year. In that same period in 2017, there were 156 murders and 615 shootings, according to CPD statistics.

“When you look at where we were in 2016 and look at us today, most people around this country didn’t think we would be right here where we are today,” Johnson said. “And it’s not success. We’re not spiking the ball. But it certainly is pointing the needle in the right direction.”

Last December, Johnson told the Chicago Sun-Times that he thinks it’s “a reasonable goal” to see the city log less than 300 murders in a year, like New York City and Los Angeles.

Johnson was asked by an audience member, “Is there a way that third party, private security vendors can assist Chicago patrol officers?”

Johnson said there are plans in the works to reach out to majority private security companies.

“We’re going to bring a lot of the major security companies in and just have a conversation with them and see how we can do just that,” he said.

Chicago Police Board President Lori Lightfoot was among those in the audience Monday. Like Johnson, she said that while “clearly some progress has been made,” there is more to be done to reduce the city’s shootings.

Chicago Police Board President Lori Lightfoot discusses ongoing reforms in the Chicago Police Department in March 2017. | James Foster/For the Sun-Times

“We should commend the department for the work’s that been done,” Lightfoot said after the speech. “Fundamentally, people need to feel safe. And in too many neighborhoods kids don’t feel safe. They don’t feel like they can come out of their houses and go to school safely. They don’t feel like they can go to the parks, and that reality is something we all have to start thinking about and focused on so that we get to a different place.”

As president of the police board, Lightfoot oversees the body that metes out discipline to officers. She’s considering a run for mayor, but has still not decided to formally declare her candidacy, nor has she set a deadline for herself to do so.

“Challenging an incumbent big-city mayor with the capacity to raise unlimited amounts of money is not a simple or easy thing,” she said. “I’m paying attention to peoples’ voices from all across the city who are encouraging me to run, but it’s not a decision that I can take lightly for the obvious reasons. If I were to make that decision, then I’ll obvious announce it in an appropriate fashion but I’m not there yet.”