OPINION | This article contains political commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson on Thursday requested an internal investigation on himself after he was found “slumped over’ in his city-issued Tahoe.
A passerby called 911 earlier that morning, after noticing Johnson asleep in the parked vehicle at a stop sign near his home.
Anthony Gugliemi, the police department’s spokesman, said alcohol did not play a role in the incident. Johnson later volunteered the fact that he had consumed a couple of drinks with dinner. That would be impossible to prove, either way: Responding officers did not perform a breathalyzer test, and no blood alcohol content information can be obtained at this point.
The results of the investigation will be turned over to First Deputy Superintendent, Anthony Riccio, rather than to Johnson, the person who would normally receive such results.
Johnson’s request for an investigation may have been a legitimate one to clear his name and to make the police department look better in the eyes of the public it serves. It may have been an attempt to appear straightforward and transparent.
It is quite possible that Johnson was just feeling ill and a bit drowsy from a recent change in medication, combined with a couple of drinks with dinner. Johnson has documented health issues.
The optics of the internal investigation might have been improved if responding officers had given Johnson a breathalyzer test. True – it’s not always done, just because someone is pulled over and asleep, although it is legal for officers to test anyone who has control of a vehicle on a public roadway (i.e., keys in the ignition, driver slumped over the wheel or a parked car).
But under these circumstances, a “complete investigation” is not achievable. No field sobriety test has been mentioned thus far. As mentioned earlier, no breathalyzer test means there are no blood alcohol content results. And in that case, no one can prove whether or not the police superintendent was impaired.
At any rate, I am willing to give Johnson, a law enforcement officer since 1988, the benefit of the doubt. Pulling over if you feel ill or too tired to drive – putting the safety of yourself and others on the road first – is always the right thing to do.