Police oversight chief to discuss ‘professionalism’ with feuding top cop, COPA boss

CHICAGO — Following days of public sniping and sassing in the wake of the Dexter Reed video release, Chicago’s top cop and the head of the agency that investigates CPD shootings are being given a timeout.

Anthony Driver, President of the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability, announced Friday he will meet this week with Supt. Larry Snelling and COPA Chief Administrator Andrea Kersten to discuss “professionalism and mutual understanding” as Kersten’s agency continues its investigation of the shooting.

A rift developed almost immediately upon COPA’s April 9 release of video and other evidence related to the March 21 shooting in Humboldt Park. Reed is believed to have fired shots at police officers during a traffic stop, striking one in the arm. Four other officers at the scene returned fire, killing the 26-year-old.

Snelling appeared at a town hall on the evening before the video release, and he sounded like he was ready to present the police department’s version of events when the videos came out. But he was a no-show at a press conference the next morning, where Kersten and Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx discussed the case.

Larry Snelling and Andrea Kersten.

Asked about his failure to appear, Snelling essentially said he had nothing to add. A source familiar with the situation said he bailed after becoming aware of the tone and tenor that Foxx and Kersten would take.

After the presser, Kersten set out on a whirlwind media tour, speaking later the same day at the City Club of Chicago and doing a wave of TV and radio interviews. But her decision to talk about the Reed investigation with ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith raised more than a few eyebrows.

Things came to a head Thursday evening when Kersten and Snelling appeared at a police board meeting.

Kersten told the group that criticism of her media tour showed a “fundamental misunderstanding of COPA’s role and responsibility.”

Snelling fired back, pointing out that COPA released a letter Kersten wrote to him about the case to media outlets under the Freedom of Information Act. Illinois’s FOIA law allows government bodies to withhold information that could interfere with an ongoing investigation or anticipated administrative or criminal proceedings.

However, COPA chose to release the letter, which asked Snelling to strip the officers while the investigation was underway and questioned the officers’ truthfulness regarding the reason they stopped Reed.

Snelling argued that she did all of that, even though COPA had not yet interviewed the officers to get their sides of the story.

“You will not find me on the Stephen A. Smith show,” Snelling cracked.

On Friday, Driver had heard and seen enough.

Saying “many members of the community” had contacted CCPSA about the way Snelling and Kersten “communicate with each other and with the media.”

“I have spoken with Superintendent Snelling and Chief Administrator Kersten about their recent public comments, including the disagreements they expressed at the public meeting of the Police Board on April 18, 2024,” Snelling said in a written statement Friday. “Both have agreed to meet next week to discuss how we can ensure that we all move forward with the utmost levels of professionalism and mutual understanding while fulfilling our commitments and responsibilities to the public to ensure that there is a fair and thorough investigation and in our pursuit of the truth and justice.”

“It’s imperative that we strive to achieve the true meaning of accountability, including in how we communicate with each other and with the people of Chicago.”

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com