Lightfoot announces proposal for civilian oversight commission of Chicago Police Department

Chicago News

CHICAGO — Mayor Lightfoot announced a proposal Monday that would create a civilian commission aimed at overseeing community input on the Chicago Police Department, Civilian Office of Police Accountability and the Chicago Police Board.

Mayor Lightfoot’s office said the seven-member commission, which will be made up entirely of Chicago residents, “will further empower the public to hold accountable their own law enforcement system.”

“This proposal will significantly overhaul how the Chicago Police Department’s leadership and members are overseen, managed and held accountable when necessary,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “Creating a civilian commission like this one has long been a goal of mine and it will allow us to continue making progress in our mission to holistically reform our police department. I want to thank everyone who helped to craft this historic ordinance and look forward to working that much harder to ensure Chicago’s police ultimately answer to the residents they serve.”

Drawing from feedback from the Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability (GAPA) and the Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC), the commission will be able to assess performance and set goals for the superintendent, chief administrator, and police board president.

Lightfoot said the commission would comprised of people she would appoint. She went on to say it would be temporary until an elected commission could be stood up.

“Under the current proposal, the draft, is going to be selected by myself and members of the Public Safety Committee of City Council,” she said.

The mayor’s plan is not what the grassroots wants.

The city’s Black, Hispanic and Progressive caucuses have endorsed a compromise ordinance championed by activists that would create an 11-member civilian board whose members would have the power over the police budget, contract negotiations with the FOP and the power to hire and fire the superintendent.

Under Lightfoot’s plan, she would maintain final say over these matters.

“Public safety, I think, is one of the critical responsibilities of any mayor,” said Lightfoot.

The Mayor’s office said the commission will also have the following abilities.

  • Direct the Public Safety Inspector General to conduct research and audits on specific topics or issues.
  • Review and provide 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 Department policies and practices of significance to the public.
  • Collaborate with the Department, COPA, and the Police Board in the development of new or amended policy.
  • Review and approve by majority vote any proposed new or amended policy. 
  • Interview, assess the qualifications of, and recommend to the Mayor candidates having appropriate qualifications for the positions of Superintendent, Chief Administrator, and Police Board member.
  • Introduce and adopt a resolution of no confidence on the fitness of the Superintendent, Chief Administrator, or a Police Board member to hold their position.
  • Before a City Council vote on the annual budget, prepare and submit to the Budget Director a detailed and factually supported budget submission, then review and, if warranted, recommend changes to the proposed Department budget appropriation.
  • Direct the Chief Administrator to investigate complaints of police misconduct consistent with COPA’s defined jurisdiction. 

If approved by City Council, the new commission will begin its work by January 1, 2022.

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