Mayor Johnson introduces Larry Snelling as pick for next Chicago police superintendent

Tuesday, August 15, 2023
Larry Snelling, who Johnson called 'son of Englewood,' named new CPD supt.
Mayor Brandon Johnson's choice for Chicago's newest police superintendent, Larry Snelling, is an Englewood native with deep ties to the community, who praised the pick.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Mayor Brandon Johnson introduced his pick to be Chicago's next police superintendent on Monday.

Counterterrorism Chief Larry Snelling is a veteran of the Chicago Police Department who grew up in Englewood, and is a former commander in that district.

He must still be approved by the Chicago City Council, but that is expected to happen. On Monday, Snelling talked about what will be his priorities, with community engagement and officer wellness both at the top of his list.

Johnson called Snelling the "son of Englewood" and a proven leader who has the respect of the police department.

"I'm fully confident in his ability to unify and strengthen these critical public servants, confident that he can boost their morale and implement constitutionally driven reforms," Johnson said. "Chief Snelling has a story that reflects the lives and aspirations of the people in Chicago. He's just a rare individual."

Snelling said at the heart of public safety are three key components: compassion, empathy and problem solving. He said he believes in the mayor's approach to tackling the root causes of violence.

"The police department and our community members are not two separate institutions, because we can't be. We have to work together by listening and learning from each other," Snelling said. "I'm willing to sit down have a conversation with any and everybody within the city to work together to resolve some of the issues that we have to make this city as safe as we can possibly make it."

On the streets of Englewood, where Snelling grew up, some remember him as a port in the storm when he commanded the district during the tumultuous days of the pandemic.

"People were yelling at police just if they just ride past and throw things at them, and I think that he was able to connect with so many different community groups and so many different leaders," said Asiaha Butler, Resident Association of Greater Englewood.

Snelling beat out 53 other candidates to get the nomination. He said officer wellness and morale will be a top priority.

"For our officers who risked their lives every day to protect our residents, I know what you sacrifice on a daily basis," Snelling said. "In order for our officers to love someone else, we have to love them."

Those were welcome words for the rank and file.

"The police department's not much different than any other corporation in many respects. A happy workforce makes for a better work product. That's just the reality of life," said FOP Lodge & President John Catanzara Jr. "The happier and better ran the Chicago Police Department is, the better and safer the streets of Chicago are going to be."

Snelling also emphasized his commitment to violence prevention and both community and constitutional policing.

"If we're just looking to get officers through 40 hours of training, then what we're doing is we're putting officers through training, but we're not training officers," Snelling said. "One of the things that I don't want to do is force training to meet compliance."

Snelling's background as an instructor at the police academy is considered an important asset.

"I think the larger issue that he cited was that the consent decree is not simply a series of checkboxes. It's actually a series of changes is the most important message to take away from that with," said Ed Yohnka with the ACLU.

"We're seeing a more violent breed of criminal. We're seeing resistance to being arrested and taken into custody. Police officers safety is at risk in a way that has never been the case right now. So, the way to respond to that is with effective training to know how to handle it," said Public Safety Committee Chair Ald. Brian Hopkins, who represents the 2nd Ward.

Before the city council can vote on Snelling's appointment, the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability will hold a public hearing so people can ask questions of Snelling. That has to happen within the next three weeks.