Forum about next CPD superintendent draws heated comments

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Mayor Emanuel was not in attendance, though many of the public comments were about him and his appointed police board. (WLS)

The Chicago Police Board held a public forum Tuesday night to get input about who should be the next Chicago Police Department superintendent.

The public input was heated at the forum, which was held in the Great Hall at Kennedy-King College in Englewood. The venue was moved to the larger space at the college after overwhelming response from the public.

Mayor Emanuel was not in attendance, though many of the public comments were about him and his appointed police board.

"The world is watching us right now!" one attendee said.

There was no mincing of words about a police department in turmoil.

"You're creating a class of persons that are above the law," another man said.

The hearing was meant to solicit the public's input on who should be the next superintendent.

"He should be black. That's the first thing," another person told the police board.

"We need an honest man who can stand up to the mayor and tell the truth," someone else said.

The hearing comes exactly six weeks after the firing of Superintendent Garry McCarthy in the wake of the release of the Laquan McDonald video. The search for a successor has been spearheaded by the mayor's police board.

"We are open to hearing from you. We do not come into this process with any predisposed decision about the particular person or the race, but we've heard you loud and clear," Chicago Police Board President Lori Lightfoot said.

The board will narrow the list of candidates to three and present those finalists to Mayor Emanuel. But some questioned the process itself.

"This board has been hand-picked and hand-appointed by the mayor. So where is our faith in this board?" a man asked.

"Might as well not have any black people on that board. What have you done? What have you done?" a woman said.

"I am in the community, and I am impacted by these things. I'm wearing a suit right now because I have to be in a suit, and I want to be respectful to you guys that I'm a representative of you," Chicago Police Board Vice President Ghian Foreman said.

Another public meeting is scheduled for next Thursday at CPD headquarters. The police board said it hopes to send its recommended candidates to the mayor by the end of next month.

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The forum about the Chicago police superintendent selection will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Kennedy-King College.


Some young activists planned to be part of the discussion of who should replace Garry McCarthy, who resigned after public outcry.

"The entire Chicago Police Department needs to be transformed," said Fresco Steez, of the Black Youth Project 100. "One person, one superintendent, will not bring about that change. We want an entire transformation of the way the police department interacts with our communities."

Black Youth Project 100 was among the groups that organized protests following the release of videos showing 17-year-old Laquan McDonald being shot 16 times by a white Chicago police officer. That officer has been charged with murder. Calls for McCarthy's resignation followed the video release.

"We do have a lot of work to do in terms of reforming how the communities of color are policed," said Shari Runner, interim president of the Chicago Urban League.

Runner hopes the voices of the community will be fresh in the minds of police board members as the consider superintendent candidates.

"Chicago is very special, Chicago is very unique and this is a very important choice and we want to make sure that we do what is right thing for the community at this time," Runner said.

While the Tuesday forum will focus on Chicago Police Department, some want attention on other concerns.

"Black communities need to be invested in, we need to defund the police. We need to defund police forces and we need to reinvest that money in black communities," Steez said.

The application deadline for the superintendent position is Friday.
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