Photos by Brooke Collins

I Believe That The Path to Safer Communities Begins By Working Together

Interim Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson

Today the Chicago Police Department (CPD) graduated 74 police recruits and 32 field training officers at a ceremony at Navy Pier. In his speech, Interim Superintendent Eddie Johnson laid out his vision for leading CPD as it works to fight crime and restore public trust. Read his remarks below:

Twenty-seven years ago I sat in your seat and I thought about what’s ahead.

An exciting job — a chance to serve my community — a way to make our neighborhoods safer — a job that supports a family. I took the oath and I never looked back and I consider myself the luckiest man in the world.

I love this city and I love this police department and I am proud to wear this star.

But one thing I never thought about was standing on this stage talking to you at a time when this city and this police department are facing so much scrutiny.

I never thought that the public perception of police officers would be at risk the way it is today.

I never thought that the mistakes or the poor judgment of a few could do so much to undermine the reputation and the integrity of so many good officers who put their lives on the line every day and do their jobs as professionals.

But here we are — in 2016. It’s a new day for Chicago and a new day for policing.

And men and women in uniform all across America face a choice: We can run from this new world — or we can embrace it.

The truth is — there is no choice. We’re going to meet this challenge the same way we have met every challenge: with courage, determination and honesty.

Our relationship with the community we serve is sacred. It’s hard to earn trust and it’s easy to lose it — and it’s even harder to get it back.

But we will — you will — all of us will together. We’re going to listen. In fact, I have been listening non-stop for the last two weeks so much that my ears are burning.

What I’m hearing is that people want respect — they crave respect. They are demanding it and they will not be denied.

Respect is the foundation for rebuilding trust. It starts with respect — and the easiest and most honest way to show respect is to listen. People want to be heard. They want to be included. They want to be our partners.

And frankly, we need them. I believe in community policing. I believe that the path to safer communities begins by working together.

I want to tell everyone who I have talked to and everyone that I have yet to meet, that I hear you and that you have my commitment that we will work as partners in this fight.

Lately we have seen how much damage and devastation that a small number of individuals can cause on our communities. By my count, the vast majority of violence in Chicago is being caused by around 1,000 individuals. So one of the keys to making our communities safer is knowing their names and never forgetting their faces. Fortunately we know them.

So I have a clear message to those individuals who are wreaking so much havoc on some of Chicago’s communities. We know who you are. We know where you live. Consider yourselves on notice.

To all of the men and women who are joining the storied tradition of the Chicago Police Department today, congratulations and thank you for taking the oath to serve.

You will quickly find that policing is as rewarding as it is challenging. You are joined by a new class of lieutenants who will set the example for you. They will help you strike that balance between de-escalating as often as possible and asserting authority when necessary.

Together along with the 12,000 members of this department you will represent Chicago’s Finest. You will carry that star everywhere and honor it with your words, with your manner, with your judgment and with your integrity.

At the end of the day, your integrity, your character and your reputation is all you have and you need to protect it. You need to own it. You need to build it.

I know that you will make the Department proud. You will make your families proud. You will make your city proud.

Because whatever our mistakes, we own them. Whatever the challenges, we meet them. And when it comes to fighting crime in our communities, we will not falter or fail in that mission.

That’s who we are. That’s what we do. We’re the Chicago Police Department.

So congratulations again and thank you for serving our Department.