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Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson on Sunday stayed within the ranks and named Larry Snelling, the police department’s counterterrorism head, as his choice for police superintendent of the nation’s third-largest city.
The announcement comes after a monthslong search led by the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability. The selection of Snelling, 54, to head the department is subject to City Council approval.
Snelling will succeed David Brown, who in March announced that he would step down the day after Chicago’s mayoral primary election in which crime was a central issue. Then-Mayor Lori Lightfoot lost that primary, and Johnson went on to win the mayoral race in April.
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“Today, a new chapter begins in our journey to create a better, stronger and safer Chicago,” Johnson said in a news release. “Chief Snelling is a proven leader who has the experience and the respect of his peers to help ensure the safety and well-being of city residents, and address the complex challenges we all face related to community safety.”
Snelling was raised on the city’s South Side and attended its public schools. He has a bachelor’s degree in adult education from DePaul University and joined the department in 1992 as a patrol officer.
Deputy Chief Larry Snelling, center, talks with officers before a prayer service in memory of Officer Ella French on Aug. 11, 2021, in Chicago, Illinois. (John J. Kim/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)
“It is a tremendous honor to answer the call to serve my hometown and the people of Chicago as superintendent of the Chicago Police Department,” Snelling said in a statement. “It is also a tremendous responsibility, and one that I do not take lightly.”
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“In order to continue to make progress as a department, we must embrace innovation, continue to strengthen morale, and go further in strengthening bonds of trust between police and community,” Snelling said.
He has been chief of the department’s bureau of counterterrorism, which coordinates with the Office of Emergency Management and Communication and other city agencies, since 2022.
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While crime in Chicago often focuses on murders and shootings, the numbers so far in 2023 are down in both categories by 5% and 10%, respectively, according to the most recent department crime statistics. However, overall major crime rates are up 35% so far this year over 2022.
Snelling was one of three finalists nominated by the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability. The other two finalists were Shon Barnes, the police chief in Madison, Wisconsin; and Angel Novalez, Chicago police chief of constitutional policing and reform.