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At a City Hall press conference on March 15, the new Community Commission on Public Safety and Accountability (CCPSA) announced a nationwide search to replace Chicago police superintendent David Brown, who officially resigned on March 14 after serving for just under three years. The CCPSA is making history in doing so: it’s the first time the selection of a Chicago police chief will be largely directed by a civilian body that is entirely independent of the mayor’s office.

“Our city faces complex issues on public safety, justice, and equality. That requires a visionary leader who is willing to take bold action,” CCPSA interim president Anthony Driver said at the press conference. “We need a superintendent who can inspire and lead and who can bring people together, who can foster healing, and who could chart a new path towards a brighter and more just future for all Chicago.”

Brown, who was appointed by Mayor Lori Lightfoot in April 2020, led the Chicago Police Department (CPD) through staffing shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic and rebellions in the wake of the police murder of George Floyd. He responded to both crises by mandating long hours of overtime for police officers. And the superintendent, who like Lightfoot was heralded as a progressive reformer at the outset of his tenure, had a spotty record on actually implementing reforms. The department has struggled to comply with a federal consent decree that came out of the 2014 murder of Laquan McDonald by then-Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke. Under Brown, the department has reached full compliance with just 3 percent of the consent decree’s mandates. According to data put out by the CPD, the department is in some compliance with about half of the decree’s mandates.

In 2021, years of organizing for community control of police culminated in the passage of the Empowering Communities for Public Safety (ECPS) ordinance, which created three-member Police District Councils in each of Chicago’s 22 police districts as well as the citywide CCPSA, whose members are nominated by the PDCs. The CCPSA’s members are currently interim commissioners who were nominated by the City Council and appointed by Lightfoot in August 2022; PDC members were first elected in the February 28 election.


The CCPSA oversees the police department, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, and the Police Board. Among the powers the ECPS ordinance gave the CCPSA is nominating the new police superintendent. 

How the CCPSA search process will unfold

The ordinance requires the CCPSA to put forth a list of three nominees for the CPD superintendent within 120 days of a vacancy. Brown resigned on March 14, so the commission has until July 14 to nominate candidates. Lightfoot appointed CPD First Deputy Eric Carter to serve as interim superintendent until the CCPSA and new mayor find a replacement.

After receiving the nominations, the mayor will have 30 days to appoint one or reject the entire list; rejecting the nominees would start the nomination process anew.

Interim commissioner Remel Terry said the CCPSA is finalizing a list of qualifications for staff who work for the commission to support the search process, and that the goal is to hire people for those roles within the next 30 days. The CCPSA will hold at least four citywide public meetings to allow the public to provide input and recommendations for the selection process. 


“In addition to these public hearings, we will engage deeply to seek the input from Chicago police officers, and local and national experts,” Terry said. “Additionally, we will work closely with community organizations and advocacy groups to ensure that our search process is accountable and responsive to the needs of all Chicago residents.” 

After gathering feedback, Terry said the CCPSA will finalize the superintendent’s job description and spend another 30 days collecting applications, which they will then narrow down to a list of final candidates. Previously, the Police Board (whom the mayor appointed) conducted searches for superintendents and made recommendations to the mayor.

“We want to leave no stone unturned,” Terry said. “We already have people who we know that are within the department that may be of interest, and so we want to encourage any and everyone who feels that they are qualified and will be these qualifications that we put forth to apply for this opportunity to serve the city of Chicago.”

2023 mayoral candidates Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson, who will face each other in an April 4 runoff, have both made statements about what they’re looking for in the next superintendent. Ultimately, however, the next mayor will be required to select from the CCPSA’s list of nominees, the makeup of which will be “entirely independent” of the candidates’ preferences, Driver said.

CCPSA interim president Anthony Driver speaks at a March 15 press conference, with interim commissioners Isaac Troncoso, Remel Terry, and Beth Brown. Photo by Jim Daley for The TRiiBE ®

“Our commission is here to serve the community. We’re not here to serve the [mayoral] administration. We’re not here to serve the City Council,” Driver said. “We are here to serve our community, and they are members of our communities, so their input will be very valuable. But [the candidates] have not tried to put a name on the list, and I also believe that that would be inappropriate.”

In addition to nominating the superintendent, the CCPSA is required to set yearly goals and evaluate how well the superintendent has met those goals. Superintendent Brown resisted the CCPSA’s first attempt at goal-setting. Making sure his replacement is open to their recommendations is important, said interim commissioner Beth Brown.

“We are looking for a leader who is going to take seriously the need to build relationships and trust with the communities and that includes with our commission as well,” commissioner Brown said. 

The CCPSA’s next regularly scheduled monthly meeting will be Thursday, March 30, at Truman College.

Correction March 17, 2023: This article previously misstated the date of the interim CCPSA’s appointment as August 2021; the interim commission was appointed in August 2022. We regret the error.

is the digital news editor for The TRiiBE.