What are District Councils?
In July 2021, the Chicago City Council passed an ordinance creating a new model for police oversight, accountability, and public safety. The ordinance creates two bodies: a citywide Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability, with power to advance systemic reform, and District Councils, which will be elected in each police district and work to improve policing and public safety in the district. The Commission and District Councils will bring police officers and Chicago residents together to plan, prioritize, and build mutual trust; strengthen the police accountability system; give Chicagoans a meaningful new role in oversight; and explore and advance alternative effective approaches to public safety.
District Councils will be created in each of the City’s 22 police districts. They will be made of up three people elected in regular municipal elections every four years, though anyone can participate in District Council work, and the more people who participate, the more effective the District Councils can be. The first District Council elections will be in February 2023, when Chicagoans will also vote for candidates for aldermen and the mayor.
The District Councils will have several key roles:
- Building stronger connections between the police and the community at the district level, where the community is a true partner in making the neighborhood safer. They can work with the police to solve problems and set priorities.
- Collaborating in the development and implementation of community policing initiatives.
- Holding monthly public meetings, where residents can work with the police on local initiatives rooted in community concerns and priorities. They can also raise and work to address concerns about policing in the district, and increase accountability.
- Working with the community to get input on police department policies and practices.
- Working to develop and expand restorative justice and similar programs in the police district.
- Ensuring that the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability gets input from the community, so that the Commission’s work will be based on what people in neighborhoods across the city are concerned about.
- Nominating members of the Community Commission. Anyone who serves on the Community Commission must first have the support of elected District Council members.
(Source: Municipal Code of Chicago, 2-80-070(a) and (e))