In October of last year, in the wake of Garry McCarthy’s resignation as Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department his successor Eddie Johnson chose to begin his reign by blaming shoddy police work on what he called “The Ferguson Effect“. The idea that police are less likely to react accordingly out of fear of becoming a pariah. It was an irresponsible comment then, and almost a year later it doesn’t appear as though Johnson has improved his communication skills. This time, Chicago’s top cop took time to voice his agreement with President Trump, who this week made comments about the need to reverse Obama-era limits on military grade weaponry in police work. In a city already wary of a fraternal police regime with quick trigger fingers, it’s a furtherance of the ignorant messaging Johnson has exemplified since taking the job.
“It will benefit law enforcement across the country,” said Johnson, who Wednesday received a new kidney from his son, Daniel. “The important thing to remember is that equipment like that should only be used in isolated incidents.”
While it’s easy to qualify the statement by saying the weapons would only be used in “isolated incidents” the reality is that the country and its police forces need to be moving away from militarization, not towards it. The NAACP called the action by Trump to begin reversing the order “exceptionally dangerous and irresponsible.” The action was announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the biennial conference of the National Fraternal Order of Police. It was that same order that endorsed the president before the November election.
Obama’s limitation on police militarization were in direct response to the reaction of the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown in the streets of Ferguson, MO. As part of that measure, police departments across the country were required to return grenade launchers, bayonets, tracked armored vehicles, weaponized aircraft and vehicles as well as firearms and ammunition of .50-caliber or greater to the federal government.
For Johnson, who as the head of the Chicago Police Department is facing an ever-increasing rift between himself and the community at-large, siding with Trump on a matter like this is readily irresponsible and does little to advance a positive agenda or a relationship with those he’s tasked with protecting. For anyone, especially the head of police in a city that has squared off against the president on several occasions, to tie themselves to the sinking ship of bad decisions that has come to be the Trump Administration deserves to go down with it. As Johnson has continued to display, with crime numbers inching higher he may be well-served to switch up the narrative and stop blaming others, otherwise he may be headed down with the rest.