SEP 28, 2023
City Council approves Snelling as CPD superintendent
Larry Snelling was sworn is superintendent of the Chicago Police Department on Wednesday. [Don Vincent/The Daily Line]
Police accountability and the need to prevent and solve violent crimes were both a major focus of comments from alderpersons Wednesday before the City Council voted unanimously to confirm Larry Snelling as the new superintendent of the Chicago Police Department.
Snelling agreed with the call to hold members of the police department accountable, as long as it’s done fairly, and acknowledged that while public safety issues may look different across the city, “we have to stand with each other and bring some of these issues to a conclusion, especially violent crime.”
Snelling’s confirmation (A2023-0003864) came less than one week after the City Council Committee on Police and Fire approved his appointment after spending three hours grilling him on topics ranging from recruitment and retention, addressing the federal consent decree and using technology to prevent and solve crime.
Mayor Brandon Johnson stood by his selection of Snelling as superintendent, saying he brings collaboration, compassion and competency to the job.
Snelling “understands as well as anyone that community safety cannot be secured by police alone,” Johnson said, adding it is a collective effort. “It literally takes all city departments and sister agencies, including our police department.”
The new superintendent also understands the need for compassion as a way to improve officer morale and envisions policies to support officers’ mental health and their ability to do their job, Johnson said.
Ald. Chris Taliaferro (28), who chairs the police and fire committee and is a former police officer, said that during last week’s hearing on Snelling’s appointment, his commitment to the city of Chicago, its residents and members of the Chicago Police Department was “evident.”
This year marked the first time the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability (CCPSA), whose members began work in 2022, was involved in the superintendent selection process. Commissioners in July sent Johnson a list of three finalists for superintendent.
The other two finalists were Angel Novalez, who serves as the police department's chief of constitutional policing and reform, and Shon Barnes, who serves as police chief in Madison, Wisc.
Multiple alderpersons and Snelling acknowledged the work of the CCPSA in selecting Chicago’s new police superintendent. The commission “raked me over the coals” in order to ensure “they had the right person for the job,” Snelling said of the CCPSA.
Prior to being elected as alderperson, Ald. Desmon Yancy (5) was instrumental in the push from grassroots organizations to establish civilian oversight of the police department. He said previous superintendent searches did not inspire confidence but under the new process, Snelling is "not just an excellent choice, but the best choice."
The CCPSA’s work shows that civilian oversight is a "help, not a hindrance to strong public safety decisions,” Ald. Daniel La Spata (1) said.
Alderpersons were largely complimentary of Snelling Wednesday and view his installment as a way to continue increasing officer morale and a way to help foster a better relationship with everyday Chicagoans.
Ald. Jeanette Taylor (20) spoke in support of Snelling both during last week’s committee meeting and during Wednesday’s City Council meeting.
"No one is saying we don't need police, what they’re saying is they want accountability," Taylor said.
Moreso than previous superintendents, Snelling that police officers should be held accountable, Taylor said. "Often when we complain about the police in our community, we aren’t listened to."
Beth Brown, commissioner for the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability, said during public comment that she looks forward to working with Snelling, in part because of his integrity.
"If you are a person of integrity, you welcome accountability,” Brown said. “I know that Chief Larry Snelling welcomes accountability."
With the unanimous approval from the City Council, several alderpersons pointed out the collaboration and cohesion among alderpersons and city officials in supporting Snelling’s appointment.
"Mr. Mayor, you have brought us together on this key issue,” Ald. Brian Hopkins (2) said.
But the city is experiencing an unprecedented trend in armed robberies and the city needs fresh ideas to prevent and solve the crimes, Hopkins said. "All these things await you on day one,” Hopkins told Snelling.
Snelling has said he supports technology that will help curb crime but didn’t directly say whether he supports the controversial ShotSpotter gun detection technology.
Additionally when it comes to armed robberies, the department needs to look at repeat offenders and “collaborate with lawmakers to hold people accountable for these crimes.”
Snelling also plans to put teams of officers together to focus on armed robbery incidents.
In addition to the need to prevent and solve violent crime and build trust within communities, Snelling plans to prioritize working with victims and survivors of crime, a group of people who are often forgotten.
“We have to think about our victims and our survivors of violent crime,” Snelling said. “At CPD moving forward, that’s exactly what we’re going to do. We’re going to be there for those families…for those people.”
Wednesday’s council meeting began more than an hour and a half after it was originally set to begin. The initial notice set the meeting start time as 10 a.m., but a notice was posted on the clerk’s website by Monday that the meeting would be delayed until 11 a.m. Ald. Samantha Nugent (39), who serves as the president pro tempore, gaveled in the meeting at 10 a.m. and delayed the start until 11 a.m. The meeting began just after 11:30 a.m.
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