Police Board Meets With Residents in Search for Department’s New Superintendent

Many frustrated people spoke candidly to members of the Chicago Police Board, demanding that the next top cop address the concerns of African Americans in the city.

Residents spoke candidly at the packed public forum held at 6:30 p.m. at the Kennedy-King College Auditorium.

"The city has lost faith in our mayor," one man said to the board.

"You report directly to the mayor," another woman said. "There has to be a stop gap between [the board] and the mayor."

They overwhelmingly also suggested that the next top cop be black. The board addressed that suggestion, as well as concerns about racism in the force.

"We do not come into this process with any predisposed decision about that particular person or the race," Chicago Police Board president Lori Lightfoot said.

"The new superintendent will have to come prepared with an effective plan for training police officers, a plan that will address the critical issues of subconscious racism and bias," said the Cook County clerk of the Circuit Court Dorothy Brown.

The board said the opinions shared at the forum will be used in their process for selecting the city's next top cop.

"Clearly we're going to translate that into specific questions that we're going to be putting to the candidates we bring in for interviews," Lightfoot said.

The meeting, which was hosted by the Chicago Urban League, marked the first opportunity for the public to express their opinions on the search for a new superintendent. The position is currently being held by Interim Superintendent John Escalante.

"You know, we've been hearing that people want an open, transparent process,” said Paul Thornton with the Chicago Urban League. “We've been hearing that many people are focusing on someone who is aware of what is happening in the community, the unique environment that is Chicago."

The department is under investigation by the Department of Justice following the release of the Laquan McDonald shooting video.

“The entire Board is completely committed to hearing from the public about the qualities the next Superintendent should possess,” Police Board President Lori Lightfoot said in a statement. “We also view this forum as an important opportunity for residents to share their experiences with the police and provide recommendations for policy priorities now and in the future.”

The application process for the position of Chicago Police superintendent was first posted Dec. 10 and remains available until Jan. 15. The Police Board will then nominate three candidates for consideration by the mayor.

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