Larry Snelling will become Chicago’s next police superintendent — if he’s confirmed by the Chicago City Council.
He’s the first superintendent-designate to be selected by the newly-formed Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability.
The 30-year police veteran says he vows to improve community relations under his tenure.
Andres Zayas, a retired Chicago police sergeant, previously worked alongside Snelling and said he’s in a great position to take over and that he “understandings the academic aspects, the history and how to deliver a message.”
But to truly commit to improving community relations, a lot of work needs to be done, said Baltazar Enriquez, president of the Little Village Community Council. He said officers need to work with grassroots organizations, go door knocking and meet the community. Without that, he says, the relationship won’t form.
“Right now, we can’t even trust our own police department in our district,” Enriquez said.
Carrie Steiner is a former Chicago police officer-turned psychologist and owner of the First Responder Wellness Center. She said there should be a larger focus on mental health of first responders.
“If an officer is not taking care of their own emotional health, they’re not going to treat other people with respect because they’re not even treating themselves with respect,” Steiner said.
The Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability is a “beginning step,” said the Rev. Waltrina Middleton, executive director of the Community Renewal Society.
But there needs to be a systematic cultural shift internally within the department so officers can better respect the communities they serve, Middleton said. Officers being receptive to community members providing critics based on their trauma is invaluable and can strengthen relationships, she added.
“When you take on a responsibility to serve in this role, you also have to take on the responsibility to treat people with dignity and respect,” Middleton said.