Residents Sound Off on Priorities, Search Process for New CPD Superintendent

Backing from the rank and file. Removing racist officers. Protecting marginalized communities.

Those are just some of the priorities Chicagoans said they have for the next police superintendent during a virtual forum held Tuesday evening, hosted by the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability.

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That’s the new body charged with coming up with candidates for Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson to choose from after he takes office. Commission members said they’ll use the public’s input as they interview and narrow down the applicants.

Former Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown stepped down March 16. He was replaced by interim Superintendent Eric Carter, who announced last week he planned to step down May 15.

As at previous forums, many speakers Tuesday night called for a new superintendent from within the city who has the backing of department members.

“I think it’s paramount that one of the main criteria that you consider is that the candidate have the confidence of the rank-and-file police officers in the Chicago Police Department,” said resident Patrick McNeil. “Without having that confidence among police officers in CPD, I think it could be more difficult to implement successful policies, procedures and reforms.”

Commission leaders said that message has been heard loud and clear, though they noted it’s up to internal and local candidates to apply before the May 7 deadline.

Tuesday’s virtual event was the third community forum on the superintendent search. Commissioners announced Tuesday they’re having three more superintendent search forums — two more than previously scheduled. Those are set for May 4 at Roosevelt High School in Albany Park, May 10 at Kennedy High School in Garfield Ridge and May 22 at the Beverly Arts Center.

Multiple speakers Tuesday also expressed concerns about making the forums accessible to Chicagoans who don’t speak English as a first language, including the city’s large Latino population.

“I think it’s great if there are going to be more of these forums (but) at least one, if not two of them, need to be primarily Spanish,” said Zach Farber. “Language translation services are great, but those can be tedious to apply for or obtain.”

Residents also brought up the lack of trust in the department — though speakers’ ideas about the source and solutions differed widely.

“We need to teach our kids not to hate police, not to fear police,” said Alma Kreuser. “This program will not work if we don’t all work together.”

“I research white supremacists in policing in our country,” said resident Jeff Tischauser, who works for the Southern Poverty Law Center. “I’m really concerned about the 14 known officers with ties to hate groups in the CPD.”

The commission has until July 15 to offer its candidates to Johnson, who then has a month to choose one or ask for another slate.

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

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