Mayor Lori Lightfoot unveils plan for civilian police oversight board that would keep him in ultimate control of DPC – CBS Chicago


CHICAGO (CBS) – After months of blockage, Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday announced plans to create a civilian police oversight board, which would have far less authority than a competing proposal championed by a coalition of progressive, black and Latino aldermen. .

According to his plan, Lightfoot would retain the power to hire and fire the superintendent of the Chicago Police Department, the chief administrator of the Civilian Bureau of Police Accountability, and members of the Chicago Police Council. It would also retain the final say on departmental policies and budgets.

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The mayor has said repeatedly, because she “wears the jacket” for the crime in Chicago, she is essentially unwilling to cede control of the CPD to a civilian oversight board. She reiterated this position on Monday.

“Public safety, I think, is one of the most critical responsibilities of any mayor – me and all who come from me. The relationship between the mayor and the police commissioner is of crucial importance,” a- she said. “Because the responsibility ends with me, I will ultimately make this decision as mayor – and any subsequent mayors -” on hiring or firing the superintendent.

However, the commission would have the power to “assess performance and set targets for” these officials, according to the mayor’s office.

When any of these positions became vacant, the commission would be empowered to seek new candidates and provide the mayor with a list of candidates to choose from, virtually identical to the current Police Commission process for vacancies in the Superintendent’s Office. . .

The panel would also have the power to cast a vote of “no confidence on the suitability of the superintendent, the chief administrator and the chairman of the police board.”

While the commission would be able to influence the policy-making of the Chicago Police Department, COPA, and the Police Board, the seven-member panel would not have the final say on policy. On the contrary, if there were political disputes between the commission and the CPD, COPA or the police commission, Lightfoot would “examine the positions of the parties and ask the superintendent, the chief administrator or the chairman of the commission police to take appropriate action, or explain in writing why no action is warranted.

Likewise, the new commission would also be able to influence the annual budgets of the various agencies, but would not have the ultimate authority.

Instead, ahead of the city council’s annual vote on departmental budgets, the commission would “prepare and submit to the budget manager a detailed, fact-based budget submission, then review and, if necessary, recommend changes to the budget. ‘proposed budget allocation for the department’.

The commission would also have the power to order COPA to investigate specific complaints of police misconduct “in accordance with the defined jurisdiction of COPA”.

The first commission members would be appointed by the mayor and city council – Lightfoot appointing five members and the city council public safety committee appointing two, subject to confirmation by the entire city council. Members of the Commission would serve four-year terms, with a limit not exceeding 12 years in total.

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However, the ordinance would also establish three-member “district councils” elected in each of the 22 districts of the Chicago Police Department. Once elected, one of three council members from each district would be chosen to sit on a nominating committee tasked with providing the mayor with candidates for commission members when there were vacancies on the panel.

“We are enabling a process that I think is important to be truly engaged at the community level through the districts, the police districts,” Lightfoot said.

Lightfoot’s proposal does not specifically say when the first district councils would be elected. Rather, the ordinance directs the appointed seven-member commission to recommend “a process for electing members of the district council” to the mayor and the city council’s public safety committee “as soon as practical and feasible” after the commission. in place in 2022.

The mayor’s announcement of his plan for a civilian police oversight commission comes just days after the chairman of the city council’s public security committee, Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29e) said he plans to hold a vote on the issue next month, after holding briefings for aldermen on Lightfoot’s plan and a more sweeping proposal called the Empower Communities for Safety ordinance public ”(ECPS), which Lightfoot opposes, but has been endorsed by the council’s black, Latino and progressive caucuses.

The ECPS order is the result of a compromise between the Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability (GAPA) and the Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC), which for years had pushed competing plans for civilian oversight of the DPC.

GAPA and CPAC joined forces earlier this year, months after Lightfoot withdrew its previous support for GAPA’s plan, over a dispute over whether the mayor or a civilian oversight board should have the final word on disputes over CPD policy.

The ECPS ordinance would put a binding referendum on the ballot in 2022, asking Chicago voters to create an 11-member board – with nine members elected and two appointed by the board itself – empowered to hire and fire the superintendent. police, setting CPD policy, negotiating contracts with unions representing officers, and budgeting for the department – removing those powers from the mayor and city council, something Lightfoot vehemently opposes.

If the referendum to create a civilian oversight board with full authority over the DPC failed, the ordinance would create a seven-member board with less regulatory powers over the department.

In this case, the board would still be able to set the policy for CPD, but the city council would have the option to veto these policies by a two-thirds vote.

The commission would be empowered to hire and fire the chief administrator of the Civilian Police Accountability Office, which handles investigations of police shootings and complaints of police misconduct.

The commission could also issue a vote of no confidence against the CPD superintendent and members of the Chicago Police Board, which would trigger city council hearings; and, if city council recommended their removal, the mayor would either have to remove them or explain why.

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With Lightfoot finally unveiling her own plan, she has just over three weeks to convince aldermen who may be on the fence about the civilian oversight proposal to support ahead of the Public Safety Committee vote on June 18.


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