CHICAGO (AP) – Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson disclosed after a public dizzy spell on Friday that he has battled a kidney condition for more than three decades and is on a waiting list for a transplant.
Johnson said his dizziness at a news conference announcing a crime initiative was due to taking blood pressure medication on an empty stomach. He was taken to a suburban Chicago hospital for several hours of evaluation and later released.
“For 32 years I’ve been treating a kidney condition that hasn’t interfered with my ability to lead a normal life or be your police superintendent,” he said at a news conference later in the day. “I don’t require dialysis nor do I have diabetes.”
Johnson said that once a donor is found and the operation takes place he should be back to work after three to five weeks. Johnson said that he informed Emanuel of his kidney condition before he was appointed superintendent in March.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel expressed “absolute confidence” that Johnson can run the department and his deputies can run the department in the event Johnson had to take leave.
Earlier Friday, Johnson appeared dazed and had to sit down while Emanuel was announcing an initiative to reduce homicides and shootings.
While Emanuel was speaking at the podium during the news conference, he stopped suddenly and turned to the police superintendent, asking “Are you OK?”
People then surrounded Johnson and several shouted: “Call 911.” Emanuel handed Johnson a bottle of water and the superintendent drank from it after sitting down in seats reserved for reporters.
Dr. Paul Crawford, a nephrologist, said Johnson’s test results did not contain anything that would require admission. He also stressed that one of every nine people in the U.S. has high blood pressure
Johnson and the mayor were announcing technological advances for police at a station on the city’s South Side. Chicago police and city officials are under tremendous pressure to curb a rash of homicides and shootings in recent years.
Chicago ended 2016 with 762 homicides – or an average of two people killed per day, a rate that was widely reported at year’s end. It was the highest number of homicides in the city in two decades and more than Los Angeles and New York combined. Last year, there were 3,550 shootings, a nearly 50 percent increase over 2015.
Three days ago, President Donald Trump tweeted that he would “send in the Feds” if the city couldn’t fix the problem.
Johnson told the Chicago Tribune on Wednesday that Trump’s tweet baffled him.
“The statement is so broad. I have no idea what he’s talking about,” Johnson said.
Johnson replaced former Superintendent Garry McCarthy, who was fired following the release of dashcam footage showing a white police officer fatally shooting an unarmed black teenager 16 times. He didn’t apply to be the city’s top police officer. Emanuel chose Johnson for the job in March 2016, after rejecting three finalists recommended by the city’s police board.