CHICAGO — While Brandon Johnson was not the candidate favored by many in law enforcement, Chicago’s next mayor has already begun the process of selecting the city’s next top cop.  However, Johnson will have a more diminished role in the selection process than his predecessors.

“We want to make sure we’re putting power back into the hands of the people and residents have a voice in this,” said Anthony Driver, the head of the newly created Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability (CCPSA).

A new city ordinance gives his group the authority to search, interview and recommend three finalists for the job of police superintendent.  The mayor then picks from the list of finalists. 

“We’re in a very unique time,” Driver said. “Public safety is a huge issue in the City of Chicago and I’m looking for someone who has experience either implementing a consent decree or who views the consent decree as a floor and not the ceiling.”

Johnson will be part of the initial search process and can submit names for consideration. The mayor-elect has said he wants the next police superintendent to be from the department as opposed to an outsider.

“I believe that’s important — someone who is tethered to the rank and file who understands the dynamic nature of the City of Chicago,” Johnson said in an interview with WGN.

Among those being discussed as potential candidates:

  • Larry Snelling, CPD’s chief of counterterrorism.
  • Ernie Cato, a former counterterrorism chief who left the department last year.
  • Jose Tirado, another counterterrorism chief who retired in 2021.
  • Leo Schmitz, a former police commander in the Englewood neighborhood who went on the serve as Illinois State Police director and is now the chief of public safety for the Cook County Sheriff.
  • Angel Novalez, chief of constitutional policing and reform for CPD.

It’s unclear if the department’s current interim superintendent, Eric Carter, hopes to stay on.

“The crime picture that we’re looking at right now – in my opinion – it doesn’t have to be that way,” said former CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson.  “What I’d be looking for is someone who can galvanize and lift up the morale of the police officers as well as someone who does embrace reform and at the same time and get out in the community and see what their concerns are.”

Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel famously ignored a shortlist from the Chicago Police Board when he selected Johnson to lead the department back in 2016, but the CCPSA’s power is derived from a City Council Ordinance, granting it more authority.

Brandon Johnson said he supports the CCPSA and looks forward to interviewing candidates.  CCPSA has until July to submit a list of finalists.