Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson announced on Sunday that Larry Snelling, the chief of the bureau of counterterrorism for the Chicago Police Department, has been appointed as the city’s new police superintendent. This appointment is considered one of the most important decisions made by Mayor Johnson since taking office, as the city continues to grapple with violent crime. Mayor Johnson, a Democrat, stated that Chief Snelling is a respected leader with the experience necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of Chicago residents and address the challenges related to community safety.
The selection process for the new superintendent was carried out by a public commission, which listened to input from Chicago residents during community meetings. Transparency was a key focus in this process, aiming to involve the community in the decision-making. With over 11,700 sworn officers under his command, Chief Snelling will lead a large department at a time when morale among officers is low and policing reforms are still seen as insufficient by many Chicagoans.
Chief Snelling is a veteran of the Chicago Police Department and an expert in use-of-force tactics. He began his career as a patrol officer in 1992 and is highly regarded within the department. His previous role was as the commander of the Seventh District in Englewood, a neighborhood with high rates of violent crime. During his mayoral campaign, Johnson expressed the importance of a superintendent who can earn the trust of Chicago residents and work with the newly elected councils of residents that provide feedback on law enforcement in each police district.
The Chicago Police Department is currently under a federal consent decree, which involves an independent monitor overseeing reforms. A 2017 report from the Justice Department highlighted civil rights violations, excessive force, and inadequate officer training targeting Black and Hispanic residents. A follow-up report in June emphasized the need for urgent action to address staffing, supervision, and data collection in order to comply with the consent decree.
Sharon R. Fairley, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, commented on the challenges facing the new superintendent, which include reducing violent crime and implementing reforms. She highlighted the frustration among the public due to a perceived lack of progress since the consent decree was established four years ago. The Chicago Police Department has experienced turnover in leadership in recent years, with several superintendents being replaced. The firing of Garry F. McCarthy in 2014 following the killing of Laquan McDonald, and the subsequent dismissal of Eddie Johnson by Mayor Lori Lightfoot in 2019, have contributed to a sense of instability within the department.
In conclusion, Larry Snelling’s appointment as the new police superintendent of Chicago represents a significant decision by Mayor Brandon Johnson. Chief Snelling’s experience and leadership skills will be instrumental in addressing the city’s ongoing challenges related to violent crime and implementing necessary reforms within the Chicago Police Department.