Mayor Emanuel Announces Sharon Fairley to be New Chief Administrator of the Independent Police Review Authority
Former Prosecutor and Deputy Inspector General Brings Fresh Set of Eyes
Mayor Rahm Emanuel today announced that Sharon Fairley will be the new Chief Administrator of the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), effective immediately. Ms. Fairley is currently First Deputy and General Counsel of the city’s Office of the Inspector General after having served as an Assistant United States Attorney for eight years. She replaces Scott Ando, who resigned effective immediately.
“As an independent arbiter of allegations of police misconduct, excessive force complaints and officer-involved shootings, IPRA is a vitally important part of Chicago’s system of police accountability. Sharon brings the experience and independence to ensure that when an officer breaks the rules, they will be held accountable,” said Mayor Emanuel. “In his four years at IPRA, Scott has taken important steps to move IPRA forward and reduce its backlog of cases. Yet it has become clear that new leadership is required as we rededicate ourselves to dramatically improving our system of police accountability and rebuilding trust in that process.”
Today’s action follows a series of steps the Emanuel administration has taken over the past two weeks. In that time the mayor has expanded the police body camera program, dismissed the police Superintendent, formed a task force to review the entire system of police discipline and announced that he would welcome the engagement of DOJ on a broad review of the police department.
In his tenure at IPRA, Chief Administrator Scott Ando significantly improved the management of investigations. IPRA’s backlog of aging cases, specifically those over three years old, which was once as high as 325 in 2010, was reduced to 32 by December 31, 2014, and now stands at 26. The average investigator case load went from approximately 35 in 2013 and early 2014 to 10 by the end of 2014 and 8 as of
September 1, 2015. Investigators completed and closed 73% of all complaints registered in 2014 within 6 months – an all-time high.
Ms. Fairley joined Chicago’s Office of Inspector General as First Deputy Inspector General and General Counsel in 2015 after serving for eight years as an Assistant United States Attorney in Chicago. There she prosecuted federal criminal national security, financial and government program fraud, immigration, narcotics, and violent crime cases. Ms. Fairley holds a J.D. from the University of Chicago, an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and a B.S. in Engineering, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Princeton University.
”I am honored to have the opportunity to continue to serve the City of Chicago at this important juncture and look forward to this new challenge,” said Fairley. “The mission of IPRA is critically important, and the investigative work must be conducted with the integrity, transparency, and expeditiousness that both the officers and the citizens we serve deserve.”
Chicago is fairly unique among major cities in that it has an independent civilian investigative agency, separate from the police department, which independently investigates all forms of police misconduct and all officer-involved shootings. Unlike the vast majority of civilian oversight agencies in the Unites States, IPRA has primary investigative authority and subpoena power over the most serious cases of police misconduct in Chicago. Even in cities that have some type of still-rare civilian review, most have their police departments conduct the entire investigation and then allow a civilian oversight board to review.