A day before Chicago’s embattled police chief resigns, the head of a new civilian commission tasked with finding his replacement vowed to find a “visionary” who can lead the department through “a time of great challenge and change” without to bow to a future mayor. who will inevitably have the final choice.
Police Supt. David Brown’s tenure was marked by rampant crime, low morale, controversial policy decisions and missteps on the city’s arduous path to reform.
The Community Commission on Public Safety and Accountability now faces its first real test in conducting a nationwide search for his successor and presenting three candidates to replace Mayor Lori Lightfoot in mid-July.
“We need a superintendent who can inspire and lead. And who can bring people together, who can promote healing and who can try to move now toward a brighter, more just future for all Chicagoans, Anthony Driver Jr., the commission’s interim president, told reporters at City Hall Wednesday. “The safety of our society depends on it.”
Mayoral candidates Brandon Johnson and Paul Vallas had vowed to fire Brown, and have since said they would prefer to hire someone from the department.
But the commissioners insisted that the incoming mayor will not have a greater say in recommending finalists and will not be able to undermine the process, as Mayor Rahm Emanuel did when he rejected three finalists chosen by the police board and chose Eddie Johnson without the former superintendent himself. applicant.
Driver said the commission’s goal “is to find the best candidate to lead the Chicago Police Department, whether they come from within the department or outside of it.”
“We’re not here to serve an administration, we’re not here to serve the City Council,” added Driver, the executive director of the SEIU Illinois State Council. “We are here to serve the community.”
After decades of calls for more civilian oversight of the police department, the City Council passed an ordinance in July 2021 creating both the commission and new councils covering each of the city’s 22 police districts.
The district councils, which recently held their first election, are tasked with strengthening community relations with the police and appointing members to the commission.
During the search for the next superintendent, the commission will hold at least four public meetings throughout the city, while also involving officers, police experts and community and advocacy groups “to ensure that our process is accountable and responsive to the needs of all Chicagoans, ” said Commissioner Remel Terry.
Starting Thursday, when Brown formally leaves, the commission will have 120 days to make its recommendations to the incoming mayor, who could reject the picks and ask for another slate of three.
Driver said his team is looking for a manager who has experience working under a federal consent decree that requires sweeping police reforms. The CPD consent decree was enacted in 2019 in the wake of a federal investigation into the police killing of teenager Laquan McDonald.
“We’ve studied people who have been successful and what they’ve done in these cities,” Driver said. “And [the commission is] looking at whether there’s a way to replicate that and/or make it better in Chicago.”
But Driver said the commission is also looking for someone who can get the support of sworn officers of all ranks — something Brown was never able to do. The driver said it was a glaring problem when he recently joined officers on a ride-along.
“I think it was pretty clear that a lot of them felt that the superintendent at the time didn’t have their back and it’s not somebody who actually cared about them,” he said. “Our officers are also part of our community. They live in the city of Chicago, so their input is valuable as well.
“We’re looking for someone who can get buy-in from the residents, buy-in from the rank and file of the department and buy-in from the brass and administration,” Driver said. Someone who can collaborate and bring everyone together.”