The city of Chicago is announcing the next steps in its efforts to fundamentally reform the city’s police accountability system. Following a new series of public hearings and engagement opportunities in Chicago’s neighborhoods, City Council plans to vote on an ordinance in September that achieves Mayor Emanuel’s goal of replacing the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) with a new civilian investigative agency, and creating a new Public Safety Auditor to audit and monitor policing issues. Separately, the city is also announcing that at the request of community groups who are invested in these issues, a collection of community organizations will now lead a public engagement process focused on creating a Community Safety Oversight Board prior to any City Council vote on that specific issue.
At several recent public hearings, the Mayor and city officials heard from community members about the need for a greater degree of community input into the process of police reform, and in particular into the creation of the Oversight Board. At the request of community groups, and as part of the city’s commitment to preserve the integrity of the process, the city has agreed for these neighborhood-based organizations to lead a series of meetings around the city focused on the Oversight Board prior to the introduction of an ordinance on this issue. Following this engagement process, and using public feedback gathered during it, the city will craft an ordinance that lays out the structure of the Board.
While community groups drive this important process forward, it is essential for the city to take action now on replacing IPRA and implementing a new Public Safety Auditor. Given the critical importance of these functions, and the urgency of the issue, it is imperative that the city advance these two measures. In doing so, it will give residents, the public and our public safety agencies the certainty they deserve, while recognizing the equally important need of addressing the voices of community members. It also meets the time frame laid out by the Police Accountability Task Force to adopt many of these important reforms within six months of their introduction.
“Everyone in Chicago deserves a police accountability system that is both trusted and effective, and we are taking the next steps to achieve that goal,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Following conversations with residents, neighborhood organizations, and others, we are taking action that reflects the voices and interests of the community. While important work remains, we will all be better off in the years to come because of the hard work and the community process being follow to rebuild and restore that system.”
“This important work to rebuild the police accountability system is moving forward, and as we work together on this effort, we are making important strides to ensure that the input and opinion of Chicago’s residents are heard,” said Ariel Reboyras, Chairman of the Committee on Public Safety. “The city of Chicago needs and deserves a police accountability system that works, and City Council is taking concrete steps to ensure that system is in place.”
“Restoring trust in Chicago’s police accountability system is imperative, and the voices of residents in neighborhoods across the city need to continue to be a part of this process,” said Carrie Austin, Chairman of the Committee on Budget and Government Operations. “There has to be certainty in the future of the system for Chicago, for our police department, and for the residents of our city. While continuing to gather public feedback, City Council is focused on doing the important work of bringing this certainty to the city.”
“We are at a critical moment in our city’s history, and this plan meets the full community engagement process that is necessary in reforming the police accountability system,” said Alderman Ricardo Munoz. “Our city’s residents need to be able to share their experiences and input on this important issue. I support this path forward, and will continue working with my colleagues in the Progressive Reform Caucus to make reform a reality.”
The City Council hearings focused on replacing IPRA and creating the Public Safety Auditor will occur in neighborhoods throughout Chicago. Below is a list of the meetings, all starting at 6:30 PM.
August 4: Public hearing at South Shore Cultural Center, hosted by Alderman Willie Cochran and Alderman Leslie Hairston
August 9: Public hearing at Senn High School, hosted by Alderman Joe Moore and Alderman Harry Osterman
August 11: Public hearing at Little Village Lawndale High School, hosted by Alderman Ricardo Munoz and Alderman George Cardenas
August 16: Public hearing at Westinghouse College Prep, hosted by Alderman Emma Mitts and Alderman Jason Ervin
August 22: Public hearing at North Grand High School, hosted by Alderman John Arena and Alderman Ariel Reboyras