Residents Call for Police Accountability, Systemic Change at Forum on New CPD Superintendent

Community members gathered Wednesday night for the second of four forums on what Chicagoans want to see from their new police superintendent.

As part of the new process for the superintendent search, in which an independent panel will come up with three candidates for Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson to choose from, a crowd packed St. Sabina Catholic Church in Auburn Gresham to share their opinions with members of the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability.

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Interim Commissioner Remel Terry said it’s the first time Chicagoans get to have a meaningful say before the slate of candidates is announced.

“Everyone across the city wants to live in a safe community, and it’s great to see how much they care about who this next superintendent will be,” Terry said. “They should definitely be optimistic, because this is the first time this has ever been done. … We are hearing from the community and leveraging that to weigh into our interviewing process.”

Commissioners heard comments on a range of issues. There were multiple calls for a new superintendent to come from within the ranks of CPD, and many community members said they wanted someone who will instill a culture of respect for residents.

“A lot of … young people and a lot of adults don’t trust police officers, and we have every reason not to,” said Gwendolyn Baxter. “The person that you select (has) to be a community person. They have to have a passion for people.”

The Rev. Desi Smith said respecting Black Chicagoans is a must: “Officers need to see individuals as neighbors and not the N-word.”

Other speakers called on community members to work toward reducing violence and called for adequate police staffing.

“Hire the number of officers that’s needed so the officers who are working cannot be overworked,” said Flora Williams. “That’s why we have so many committing suicide.”

Williams was among those who demanded a Chicagoan as the new police leader, saying New Yorker Garry McCarthy and Texan David Brown weren’t the right fit for the city.

Many speakers addressed the challenges facing young residents.

“A lot of kids have mental health issues, they don’t know how to speak up, they don’t know how to read or write, and that’s also their parent’s fault,” said Lyric Harris. “Some kids don’t have parents, so in our reality, we need to try to be a parent to each other.”

The commission held a forum last week on the West Side. It’s also set to hold a third forum online and a fourth on the North Side.

The panel is charged with recommending three candidates to the mayor by July 14. The mayor will then have 30 days to choose one or ask for another slate of options.

Contact Nick Blumberg: [email protected] | (773) 509-5434 | @ndblumberg

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