Mayor Brandon Johnson Addresses Chicago Police Graduates: ‘I’ll Cover Them’

Mayor Brandon Johnson assured 261 new police officers Monday, “I’ll cover you,” and rookies cheered when their mayor declared, “If you don’t live in the city of Chicago, you don’t have the right to speak.” over the city of Chicago.”

Presiding over his first police graduation ceremony, Johnson thanked the new officers for answering the call to serve and protect in what he called “some of the most difficult political times our city has experienced.”

“Know that as your mayor, as your brother, I am here to build the kind of coalition that generations to come will marvel at because this will be the generation that stared straight in the eye at the divisive nature created by political forces that do not want the city of Chicago succeed. But this is the fucking city of Chicago. The greatest city in the world and no one, no one, will come before us,” Johnson told graduates in the grand ballroom at Navy Pier.

“If we are going to have a society that we can all be proud of and a society in which we can raise our families, it will take all of us. No one can be left out. And let me make this emphatically clear: if you don’t live in Chicago, you have no right to speak about the city of Chicago.”

Johnson did not identify the nonresidents who say no. He didn’t have to.

Even after another violent weekend in Chicago, with 10 fatal shootings and 36 injuries, the graduates declared to applause that many of them too may be sick and tired of hearing and reading about what is wrong with their city.

Johnson spent the entire mayoral campaign distancing himself from his history of supporting the concept of defunding police and denying that he planned to cut “one cent” from CPD’s $1.94 billion budget.

Ultimately, Johnson promised to cut $150 million from the police budget and reinvest the savings in CPD by promoting 200 detectives, improving officer well-being and speeding compliance with a federal consent decree.

Chicago Police Department freshmen at their graduation ceremony on Monday, June 5, 2023 at Navy Pier.

Chicago Police Department freshmen at their graduation ceremony Monday at Navy Pier.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

During Monday’s graduation, Johnson told the newly appointed officers that their “commitment to the principles of justice and equity” and to protecting Chicago’s neighborhoods is the “soul of Chicago” that he spoke so much about in his speech. inaugural.

“This duty will require an immense amount of courage, bravery, resilience, compassion, empathy. But you have it. You have it in the depths of your soul and that is why you are here today. The people of Chicago want that from our Police Department. Better, stronger and safer communities deserve better relationships with the very people who are prepared to serve and protect. Chicagoans want to trust the Police Department,” he said.

“When you show up on some of the hardest days, at the most vulnerable moments, you’ll be there building this trust and respect. This trust and respect…will help you too. … His ability to build ties to communities that he has disinvested in for decades is critical to his service.”

The expired mayoral candidate Paul Vallas was endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police. FOP President John Catanzara went so far as to warn during the campaign that Johnson’s election would pave the way for “an exodus like we’ve never seen before” with up to 1,000 officers leaving CPD.

But apparently Johnson was determined to convince the graduates that they had no reason to fear or run. They will have the support they need from the City Council.

“Let me say it here and now I am committed to working with the Chicago Police Department and the full force of government to ensure that the city of Chicago has everything it needs to thrive. Whether it’s the faith community, the business community [or] each of the agencies over which I have jurisdiction. I will stand with you to make sure that the city we all love gets everything it deserves,” he said.

Mayor Brandon Johnson on Monday, June 5, 2023 addressed his first graduating class of the Chicago Police Department since taking office.

Mayor Brandon Johnson addressed his first graduating class of the Chicago Police Department since taking office on Monday.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Monday was also the first graduation ceremony for the Acting Superintendent of Police. Fred Waller, whose appointment sent a message to the demoralized, overworked and underappreciated officers who have been retiring in droves.

Waller told the 261 members of the graduating class, nearly a third of them women, 74% people of color, that they represent “hope in Chicago.”

“In fact, I remember a quote from the Roman historian Tacitus. He once wrote: ‘In courage, there is hope’. In you, in your decision to serve, in your vow to protect, there is courage and there is hope. You all give me hope,” Waller said.

“His courage and commitment is proof of his belief in the city of Chicago. Never lose that, even when it seems like the work we do is in vain. Trust me, it’s not.