Superintendent Snelling addresses the media at a press conference following his confirmation hearing as Mayor Brandon Johnson looks on. Credit: Jim Daley

Larry Snelling, a thirty-year police veteran, is Mayor Brandon Johnson’s pick to oversee the Chicago Police Department. The CPD remains under a federal consent decree stemming from the 2014 police murder of Laquan McDonald, making the job of running, and reforming, the department a challenge.

In this series, which was published while Snelling was awaiting City Council approval, the Weekly’s investigative team dug into his background as a beat cop and supervisor. We found that Snelling was accused of using force repeatedly while he was in patrol on the South Side in the 1990s; that he testified in 2015 on behalf of a since-disgraced cop who’d been accused of abusing a detainee; and that he was implicated in a scheme where officers threatened to plant evidence on a suspect in 1997.

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As a beat cop in Englewood and Morgan Park in the 1990s, Snelling was the subject of eight excessive force complaints, two of which resulted in suspensions. Some of the allegations describe Snelling slapping or punching people as young as fourteen in the head, while others detail verbal abuse. Max Blaisdell investigates.

‘Doesn’t Make it Wrong’

CPD Chief Larry Snelling testified in 2015 that an officer’s use of force was appropriate, but IPRA and the then-superintendent found otherwise.

While he was a sergeant working at the Police Training Academy in 2015, Snelling testified in a civil suit that a lieutenant who allegedly pressed his hand forcefully into a mentally ill woman’s nose because she would not submit to fingerprinting had used an appropriate amount of force for that type of situation. Jim Daley investigates. 

In 1997, Snelling was implicated as one of several officers who coerced a man into bringing them a gun by threatening they’d plant drugs on him if he didn’t cooperate. A sting operation conducted by Internal Affairs snared three officers close to Snelling, including his partner at the time, in the scheme. Max Blaisdell investigates.

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