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Councilors put forward plan for the elected board of directors to oversee the Chicago Police Department and set up the final vote Chicago News

Supporters of the plan “Empowering Communities for Public Safety” demand more accountability of the police during a rally on April 21, 2021. (Heather Cherone / WTTW News)

A proposal to create an elected board of Chicago residents to oversee the Chicago Police Department came late Tuesday, August 8th, after a heated debate among city councils over how trust should be placed in officials amid a spate of violent crime and repeated allegations can be recovered, released for wrongdoing by officials.

The Chicago City Council Public Safety Committee vote, after more than two hours of debate, represents a final vote at the full city council meeting scheduled for Wednesday at 10 a.m. and puts Chicago on the verge of passing the most far-reaching police reform ordinance in the country.

The eight councilors who voted against the proposal were Alds. Patrick Daley Thompson (11th district), Derrick Curtis (18th district), Ariel Reboyras (30th district), Nicholas Sposato (38th district), Samantha Nugent (39th district), Anthony Napolitano (41st district), Jim Gardiner (45th district) and Brendan Reilly (42nd district)

Four of these lay judges represent the Far Northwest Side, where many police officers live and violent crimes are rare.

The proposal – backed by Mayor Lori Lightfoot – must get at least 34 of the 50 votes on the Chicago city council to call for elections to create three-member district councils in each of Chicago’s 22 police districts, while a seven-member commission oversees the city.

Lightfoot took to Twitter to urge committee members to move on with the plan, which has been in the works since 2016, and oppose John Catanzara, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7, who has the most rank-and-file officers.

Catanzara, charged with misconduct that could cause the Chicago Police Department to fire him, told councilors there was no need to step up oversight of the Chicago police force.

A Department of Justice investigation concluded in 2017 following the police murder of 16-year-old Laquan McDonald found that Chicago police officers routinely violated the constitutional rights of black and Latin American Chicagoans and were rarely held accountable for wrongdoing.

That investigation resulted in a federal court order requiring the Chicago Police Department to reform the order of a federal judge.

“Supervision is not bad when you have nothing to hide from,” said Ald. Jason Ervin (28th District).

Black Caucus chairman Ervin said he understood that opponents of the proposal never felt like they were being forced onto the hood of a police car during a search.

Several councilors who voted against the proposal to create an elected board to oversee the police department agreed with Catanzara that additional oversight was unnecessary, while others – including Napolitano, a former police officer – said it would reduce efforts to reduce the burden Just make crime more difficult.

Crime has declined slightly this summer compared to summer 2020 when the city saw a significant increase in crime and violence despite restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19. However, the number of shootings increased by about 60% in the summer of 2019, and the killings are up nearly 50% from two years ago – the last summer before the pandemic.

“We’re dropping the ball,” said Napolitano.

The debate revealed a clear division among city councilors concerned about crime in Chicago. While some opposed the establishment of an elected board on concerns over rising crime, others said increased police oversight would actually reduce crime by restoring community confidence in the beleaguered department.

After years of debate, the proposal is ready for final vote less than a week after Lightfoot agreed to endorse the ordinance drawn up by the Empowering Communities for Public Safety coalition, a group of community organizations that has championed the board for years.

The crucial sticking point in the negotiations between Lightfoot and the coalition of civic organizations revolved around who would have the final say on Chicago Police Department policies.

The measure, set for a vote on Wednesday, would give the board the final say on the policy of the Chicago Police Department – but also give the mayor a veto that could be overridden by a two-thirds majority in Chicago city council.

The new board would recommend candidates for police commissioner and police headquarters to the mayor.

In addition, the elected board would have the authority to recruit and dismiss the head of the Civil Police Accountability Office known as COPA, which is charged with investigating police misconduct, according to the proposal put to the vote.

In addition, the proposal would allow the elected board of directors to pass a no-confidence vote against the superintendent and any member of the Chicago Police Board by a two-thirds majority. That could trigger action by the city council.

A council made up of non-citizens would advise the Commission on issues affecting Chicago’s immigrant and undocumented community under the proposed regulation.

For 16 months, Lightfoot vigorously opposed all of these regulations, repeatedly saying that relinquishing this type of authority would make it impossible for the mayor to maintain the safety of Chicago. Their proposal would only have given the elected members of the board the authority to advise the mayor, but that was only nominally supported by members of the Chicago city council.

The city council was ready to pass an earlier version of the proposal to set up an elected board in March 2020, but the dispute over whether the mayor or board would set the guidelines for the Chicago Police Department has that of the Grassroots Association for Police Drawn up accountability plan known as GAPA.

Although Lightfoot endorsed this plan during her 2019 mayoral campaign, pledging to adopt it during her first 100 days in office, she demanded that the mayor have the final say on politics shortly before a city council vote and sent the push to the legislative limbo, which ended on Tuesday evening.

Contact Heather Cherone: @HeatherCherone | (773) 569-1863 | [email protected]

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