City Council passes civilian oversight commission of Chicago Police Department

Chicago News

CHICAGO — A plan to bring additional oversight to the Chicago Police Department was passed Wednesday afternoon by City Council.

The proposal, based on an agreement reached between Mayor Lori Lightfoot and police reform advocates regarding CPD oversight, was passed Tuesday night by the public safety committee on a 12-8 vote.

It was passed 36-13 by City Council in the full vote.

The deal comes with several conditions.

Under it, a seven-member commission would be appointed by the mayor.

Any prospective commissioners will need impressive qualifications:

  • Two commissioners must have at least 10 years of experience as an attorney
  • One commissioner must have at least 10 years of experience in community organizing

A new civilian oversight commission would try to hold CPD officers accountable for misconduct. It would have some authority to write policy and hold “no confidence” votes on key officials. But, Mayor Lori Lightfoot would retain the power to hire and fire the superintendent.

For decades grassroots organizations pushed for community oversight of police. Their demands picked up steam after the release of video showing the murder of Laquan McDonald. 

“We knew that our city had to take action to ensure that people in ever community feel safe,” Ald. Carlos Ramirez Rosa said.

Mayor Lightfoot campaigned on civilian oversight, but she fought with activists over a final ordinance.

“Public safety is issue. Not a number of priorities including public, it is the issue,” Lightfoot said.

The ordinance establishes 22 district councils. Three members would be elected in each district beginning in 2023. The position is largely an advisory post.

“The community has a voice in what goes on. There’s no other ordinance in the country where say rests with the community. In this ordinance say rests with the community,” Ald. Roderick Sawyer said. “The mayor has of course what he or she can override and then the Council then has an opportunity to override that.”

The police union president said the commission is unnecessary.

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