Incoming top cop Larry Snelling should have the chance to pick his own leadership team

Snelling will inherit personnel changes he should have been the one to make. We’re also concerned about questions surrounding four of Interim Supt. Fred Waller’s picks.

Larry Snelling, Mayor Brandon Johnson’s pick to lead the Chicago Police Department, has expressed support for mental health workers to help respond to some 911 calls.

Mayor Brandon Johnson looks on as Chief Larry Snelling speaks during an Aug. 14 news conference to announce Snelling as the next superintendent of the Chicago Police Department.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times (file)

The police department is the one city agency Mayor Brandon Johnson has to make sure is led and managed correctly.

And that should start with letting a new police superintendent pick his own leadership staff.

So we’re a bit mystified by this week’s decision by Johnson to allow Interim Police Supt. Fred Waller to overhaul the department’s command ranks — rather than leave that important task to the next top boss, the current Bureau of Counterterrorism Chief Larry Snelling, whose nomination to the top spot awaits City Council confirmation.

And we’re not talking about a few departmental tweaks. Waller made 23 changes, including the promotion of three ranking cops to the position of commander, and shifting nine current commanders to new posts. Six lieutenants made captain.

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Snelling will inherit these choices. But he should have been the one to make the changes — or decide if they needed to be made at all.

As the Sun-Times reported, Waller told some members of the department the changes would be effective by Friday, but sources said some of his picks were already in their new positions.

Admittedly, former Interim Supt. Charlie Beck in 2020 made a slate of changes more sweeping than those now enacted.

But what happened? His replacement, Supt. David Brown, ended up creating his own command staff and reversed key Beck decisions.

We’re also concerned about questions surrounding four of Waller’s new picks. Galen Caldwell, who currently commands the first deputy superintendent’s office, allegedly referred to a police secretary as a “b----” during a staff meeting, sources told the Sun-Times.

Meanwhile, Carlin Morse, who Waller bumped up from captain to commander of the Austin District, was accused of aggressively grabbing a female co-worker’s arm, according to sources.

Both Caldwell and Morse are under investigation, a police spokesperson said.

In addition, Brian Kinnane, Waller’s selection for the Morgan Park District’s new commander, has been named in at least three suits that cost the city nearly $2.8 million.

And Joshua Wallace, who commands a unit that oversees narcotics and gang operations between the Chicago police counterterrorism bureau and federal and local law enforcement agencies, has been named in at least six job-related lawsuits totaling $486,000.

“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,” Johnson said last month.

If that’s the case, Snelling should have been allowed to pick the team he needs to make that happen.

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(Editor’s note: A previous version of this editorial incorrectly stated that Carlin Morse was promoted from captain to commander of the Austin District by Larry Snelling. Morse was promoted by Fred Waller. The Sun-Times regrets the error.)

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