Chicago City Council showdown over civilian police oversight is postponed again

Police reform advocates waited 26 months for Mayor Lori Lightfoot to keep his promise to empower a civilian oversight board to fire the Chicago Police Superintendent and have the final say on spending and policy. the police.

They will just have to wait a few more days.

The city council’s public safety committee made sure of that on Friday by postponing a confrontational vote on the volatile issue – again – until 5 p.m. Tuesday.

This time around, the delay was triggered by Lightfoot’s decision to come up with a revised civilian oversight order than Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35e) said he was “extremely close” to the compromise approved by the Black, Hispanic and Progressive caucuses.

Negotiations will continue throughout the weekend in hopes of reaching a compromise capable of attracting the 34 votes needed to approve any order involving the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.

“It’s hard to pass over the objections of a sitting mayor. … She made a very, very serious proposition. … This is the closest this mayor has ever been to an ordinance that our coalition would like to see, ”said Ramirez-Rosa.

Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) told colleagues he hoped to issue “America’s most comprehensive order” after a few days of additional negotiations.

“We are extremely close. … We’re probably around 80, 85% there. … We’re just asking for a few more days to sort this out, ”Sawyer said.

Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), one of Lightfoot City Council’s most vocal critics, had doubts. He called the latest version of civilian oversight “compromise to compromise to compromise.”

“Communities are really frustrated with the number of crimes that are skyrocketing. … Arrests are down drastically from last year. … We need to deliver results to people as soon as possible because those numbers won’t change unless we do something drastic, ”Beale said.

Sawyer responded, “We share that commitment and that frustration. That’s why we want to do it before we adjourn for the summer. We want this to be done by Wednesday at the city council plenary meeting. ”

Ald. Ray Lopez (15th), another virulent critic of the mayor, called the decision to meet again Tuesday evening an insult.

“We’re going to have a talk about, possibly the most important civilian watch in city history at 5 in the afternoon on the day we’re supposed to adopt it.” Tome, [that] looks silly – it doesn’t matter which side you’re on. It’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard, ”Lopez said.

Ramirez-Rosa declined to reveal details of the mayor’s offer, but said it was “extremely, extremely similar” to the version adopted by all three caucuses, particularly on the performance of the police commissioner.

This version empowers the 11-member Civilian Oversight Commission to determine that there is “just cause” to take a vote of no confidence in the superintendent and take that vote after giving the best cop 30 days to respond.

If the commission approves, city council will vote on whether to recommend the superintendent’s dismissal. The mayor would not be bound by this vote, but political pressure to make a change would be hard to ignore.

Police reform advocates and the mayor’s office are “even further apart” on the issue of resolving disputes over police policy, Ramirez-Rosa said.

But sources said the final version is almost certain to empower the Civilian Oversight Commission to resolve disputes over police policy that could only be overturned by a two-thirds vote in city council.

Lightfoot has repeatedly argued that she is “wearing the jacket” for the Chicago violence and not about to “outsource” control of the CPD to a civilian police oversight board.

When Lightfoot finally delivered her version of civilian oversight, she retained for herself and future mayors the power to hire and fire the superintendent and have the final say in disputes over police policy. .

But Lightfoot’s order drew such lukewarm support that she withdrew it, setting the stage for the latest round of negotiations.

Civilian oversight was a key recommendation from the Police Accountability Task Force that Lightfoot co-chaired in fury after the court-ordered release of Laquan McDonald’s filming video.

The mayor has come under heavy political pressure to exercise civilian oversight, especially after changing his mind on an elected school board bill approved by the Illinois General Assembly because of his strong objections.

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