Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson’s quiet leadership lesson

By Editorial Board

For the Chicago Police Department, 2018 had been a rough year that couldn’t end fast enough. Cmdr. Paul Bauer was shot to death in February as he pursued a suspect in the Loop. Officer Samuel Jimenez died in a November hospital shooting. There had been a number of suicides.

Then came the evening rush hour of Dec. 17. Two officers from the Far South Side Calumet District, both new on the job and both fathers, were hit by a Metra train and killed while chasing a man after a report of gunfire.

The deaths of Officers Eduardo Marmolejo, 36, and Conrad Gary, 31, were a sickening blow to the department. The Calumet District already had experienced more than its share of loss. Marmolejo and Gary were the fourth and fifth officers in the district to die in 2018, two others by suicide and one of an apparent heart attack.

A few days ago, in a story by the Tribune’s Madeline Buckley, a new detail emerged from that awful evening that speaks to the shared sacrifice of first responders. It also offers an example, amid heartbreak, of what leadership looks like:

Superintendent Eddie Johnson and other top brass had been the ones to reclaim the young officers’ remains from the Metra embankment, sparing other officers the anguish of the task.

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