January 10, 2022

Mayor Lightfoot Announces Adam Gross to Serve as Executive Director of the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability

Adam Gross will lead the City’s first-ever Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

CHICAGO – Today, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot announced that Adam Gross has been appointed to serve as the first-ever Executive Director of the newly created and historic Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability. In this role, Executive Director Gross will be tasked with standing up the staff, operations, and budget of the newly created Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability.

“The establishment of a community-led Commission for oversight of the Chicago Police Department and its relevant agencies is a historic milestone for our city, and I am thrilled to announce that Adam Gross will serve as its first Executive Director," said Mayor Lightfoot. "Under Adam's leadership, the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability will become a critically important piece of our city's police accountability infrastructure and empower our communities to take the lead in this incredibly important work. I have the utmost confidence in Adam's experience and ability to support and guide this new commission, and look forward to working with him as we work to make Chicago a national leader in police reform.”

Executive Director Gross is an attorney and policy expert with more than 30 years of experience in developing, advocating for, and implementing structural reforms. Most recently, he served as Director of the Police Accountability Program for Business and Professional People for the Public Interest, leading their efforts to increase public safety, enact systemic police reforms in Chicago, and ensure that those most directly affected by the reforms play an active role in developing them. Since 2016, he has provided legal, policy, and technical support to community-based coalitions working on the ordinance that creates the Commission, including the Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability and the Empowering Communities for Public Safety coalition. Executive Director Gross also worked with Mayor Lightfoot on the Mayor’s Police Accountability Task Force and helped develop the Task Force’s key proposals for structural reform.

“I am honored and humbled to serve Chicago as the first-ever Executive Director of the newly created Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability,” said Executive Director Adam Gross. “Independent, civilian-led oversight of our police department and police accountability agencies is more important than ever before. I look forward to working with the Commission, District Councils, the Police Department, and partners across the city to give community members a greater opportunity to help build a safer and stronger Chicago. I am grateful to Mayor Lightfoot and the City Council for their leadership on this critical issue and appreciate their confidence in my leadership on this momentous and historic step for our city."

The ordinance establishes a two-tiered model for civilian oversight including:

  • The Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability: a city-wide, community-led oversight body (7 members, with four year terms of office)
  • District Councils: an elected body for each police district (3 members per district, 22 districts, with four year terms of office)

As Executive Director, Adam will manage the team that supports the Commission and District Council’s work and will serve as the liaison and primary point of contact between the Commission and the Police Department, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA), the Police Board, the Deputy Inspector General for Public Safety, the Mayor’s Office, City Council, and the Consent Decree Monitor. Executive Director Gross will also be responsible for hiring 14 full-time employees.

The City Council will nominate fourteen people and the Mayor will appoint seven of them to serve as interim commissioners until the first regular Commission is appointed. The Executive Director and staff will help support these seven interim commissioners and future permanent commissioners. 

Once appointed, the Commission’s powers will include:

  • Playing a central role in selecting and removing the Police Superintendent, COPA Chief Administrator, and Police Board members. When a vacancy occurs, interview, assess the qualifications of, and recommend to the Mayor candidates having appropriate qualifications for the positions of Superintendent and Police Board member. The Commission may also introduce and by two-thirds majority vote adopt a resolution of no confidence in the Superintendent or a Police Board member. When a vacancy occurs, the Commission will appoint the COPA Chief Administrator with the advice and consent of the City Council. The Commission will have the authority to remove the COPA Chief Administrator for cause.
  • Setting policy. The Commission will collaborate with the CPD, COPA, and the Police Board in the development of new or amended policy. It may draft policy and will review, and approve by majority vote any proposed new or amended policy.
  • Establishing goals and evaluating progress for the CPD Superintendent, COPA Chief Administrator, and the Police Board President. 
  • Promoting community engagement and transparency.
  • Reviewing and providing input to the Chief Administrator, Public Safety Inspector General, Superintendent, Police Board, and other City departments and offices, including the Mayor, City Council Committee on Public Safety, and Corporation Counsel, on the police accountability system, police services, and CPD policies and practices of significance to the public.

Starting in February 2023, District Council members will be elected by the residents of their districts through a consolidated primary election. The candidates in each District receiving the greatest, second greatest, and the third greatest number of votes will assume office on the first Tuesday in May following their election. In all District Council elections, voters may vote for up to three candidates.