In the first search for a new Chicago police superintendent by a civilian commission, two insiders and the police chief of Madison, Wis., are the three finalists whose names have been submitted to Mayor Brandon Johnson, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. The submission, by a unanimous vote of the commission, starts a 30-day clock for Johnson to make his pick or reject all three to launch a second search. Johnson has expressed a strong desire to choose interim Supt. Fred Waller’s replacement from inside the department, or at least select someone with experience in Chicago. He views an insider as pivotal to boosting morale that hit bottom among the rank-and-file under former Supt. David Brown, who resigned the day after Mayor Lori Lightfoot lost her bid for a second term.
The two department insiders are CPD's chief of counterterrorism, Larry Snelling, and the department’s chief of constitutional policing and reform, Angel Novalez. If boosting police morale is a priority, Snelling could emerge as a favorite. He is pretty much beloved among officers in the department and reportedly wowed commission members with his humility. Over his more than three decades with the department, Snelling has also served as the commander of the notoriously violent Englewood District and as a sergeant for recruit training at the police academy. He notably designed the latest version of the police department’s training model on use of force, an integral part of the consent decree outlining the terms of federal court oversight of the department. If Johnson’s top priority is to speed consent decree compliance to rebuild shattered trust between residents and police in Black and Brown communities, he may be drawn to Novalez. Before taking on his current role, Novalez was the deputy chief of the Office of Community Policing, overseeing the expansion of the department’s Civil Rights Unit and Neighborhood Policing Initiative programs. He was placed in charge of community policing two weeks after civil unrest triggered by the murder of George Floyd that devolved into two devastating rounds of looting. The wild card in the competition is Shon Barnes, the Madison chief, who has a connection to Chicago. Before being hired in 2021 as police chief in Madison, with a population of less than 270,000 people, he worked as the director of training and development at the Civilian Office of Police Accountability. That agency, charged with investigating serious misconduct allegations, is widely derided by rank-and-file officers and their union.