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The top three police finalists were able to become the “generational leaders” Chicago needed, the search leader said

The man leading the nationwide search for the next Chicago police inspector on Friday praised the three finalists and said he had a favorite among them, but declined to name the top candidate.

Anthony Driver, president of the Chicago Community Commission on Public Safety and Accountability, said he was “very, very, very tired” after spending 70 hours a week searching for the “generational leaders” a city “in crisis” desperately needed.

Driver believes he has found three of the leaders in Madison, Wisconsin police chief Shon Barnes, Chicago Police Department Counterterrorism head Larry Snelling and Angel Novalez, CPD Head of Policing and Constitutional Reform.

Barnes is the only outsider in the group, having cut police teeth in the North Carolina cities of Greensboro and Salisbury. But he is also a Ph.D. whose dissertation was on racial bias in the police.

He started a program in Madison that exempts sworn officers from doing “the legwork of the police” by allowing citizens to file their police reports on Zoom.

“The point is, ‘If I can be hired as the National Police Chief during a pandemic via Zoom, then why can’t we retrieve police reports from the same mechanism?’ “ said Friday’s driver.

The Chicago Police Department is very narrow, not easy to accept outsiders. But Barnes was a “listener” and a “collaborator,” says Driver, and “one of the most humble people I’ve ever met.” She doesn’t need to be “the face of everything,” Driver says, because she’s willing to surround herself with — and take advice from — “experts” who know “better than she does.”

Angel Novalez (from left), Shon Barnes and Larry Snelling are finalists for the Chicago Police Department superintendent assignment.

Sun-Times files and Twitter photos

“We have been begging for a labor allocation study to be released in the city of Chicago for the past decade. But they do this every year in Madison and reassign officers based on that every year, using data,” said Driver.

“If we had it in the city of Chicago, it would solve a lot of our response time issues… and we wouldn’t have to cancel so many days off for officers.”

As for Snelling, what caught Driver “completely off guard” were the “various people” singing his praises.

“You’re at FOP and they compliment Larry Snelling. You’re talking to the attorney general… who oversaw the approval decision and praised Larry Snelling. I was at Preston’s Areanah funeral and the officer pulled me aside and was talking about Larry Snelling,” he said.

“It really involved a lot of people who were very confident in their leadership. … I don’t know the name of the officer who pulled me to Officer Preston’s funeral, but all he said to me was, ‘That’s our man. He’s tough on us, but he’s also fair. And he pushed us to be the best.’ … Do I think he will have a positive effect on officer morale? No question.”

Snelling delivered a “passionate” speech to members of the commission about the difference between what he called “cowardly leadership” and “courageous leadership,” Driver said.

He refuses to cite Snelling’s example of cowardly leadership. But he retells Snelling’s story of the courageous leadership Snelling displayed while serving as commander of the Englewood District during the civil unrest following the 2020 killing of George Floyd.

“There was an incident at Englewood. … Some misinformation has come out and there are hundreds of members of the public who are very upset to think a child has been shot multiple times by the police department. There are about a hundred officers out there. That’s my environment. … I was out there on the scene. It was a very controversial moment. … I thought my community was going to burn,” said Driver.

“Through his relationship with that community, he can work with them. He literally got all the officers off the block. He provides accurate information to the public. And no one got hurt in that situation.”

If Johnson’s top priority is speeding compliance with the approval decision, he may be interested in Novalez, who has the job now.

“He can quote certain paragraphs of the consent decision. He knows it’s back and forth,” said Driver.

Novalez is a former vice chairman who was placed in charge of CPD community policing. He was also the only one of the three finalists to be shot in the line of duty.

“He talked about how it made him better. How hard is that. How the community was there for him and how his fellow officers were there for him and the friendships it built and how it helped advance his thinking as a leader,” said Driver.

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