Counterterrorism Chief Larry Snelling cleared his first major hurdle Friday on the road to becoming Chicago’s next top cop, facing little resistance from a City Council committee that voted unanimously to advance his confirmation.
During a three-hour meeting of the Police and Fire Committee, Snelling vowed to aggressively use technology to address robberies and other crime patterns while supporting officers by bolstering mental health support and giving them more time off.
Throughout the hearing, the Englewood native stressed his commitment to working with Chicagoans to rebuild trust, recruit new cops and tackle the pervasive crime issues that have tarnished the city’s reputation.
“Community policing means that we know our communities, we’re engaging with our communities, we’re listening to our communities and we’re listening to the problems of those communities,” he said. “But bigger than all of that is that we’re responsive to our communities.”
Mayor Brandon Johnson chose Snelling last month after a new civilian-led panel chose him as one of the three finalists for the job following a first-of-its-kind search. The full City Council will now vote Wednesday on whether to confirm Snelling, a move that would cap a swift rise through the ranks.
Snelling was joined Friday by interim Supt. Fred Waller, who came out of his retirement after Johnson tapped him to run the department while the search process played out. Snelling referred to Waller as his “mentor” while heaping praise on the former patrol chief.
“He pushed me into this position, and I can’t thank him enough for it,” Snelling said. “And I think everyone here has benefitted from Superintendent Waller coming back and taking the reins and getting the department back on track.”
While alderpersons peppered Snelling with questions about his leadership plans, there were no contentious moments and many committed to voting in favor of his confirmation next week.
In response to some of those questions, Snelling said he’d explore making sweeping changes that would shift the boundaries of police districts and beats, send cops to fewer emergency calls and overhaul the department’s deployment practices.
If confirmed, Snelling would become the first permanent superintendent since David Brown, the former Dallas police chief who stumbled through one of the department’s most harrowing periods — one marked by a historic, pandemic-era spike in violent crime.
Ald. Jeanette Taylor (20th) remarked that Snelling’s appointment is “a step in the right direction.”
“I’ve been able to call him and he’s helped out, even on his time off, to come to say, what do you need over here? How do I support you? How do I support the community?” Taylor said. “So I appreciate that.”