Proposal for civilian oversight of Chicago Police Department passes Public Safety Committee

Chicago News

CHICAGO — A proposal for civilian oversight of the Chicago Police Department was passed by a committee Tuesday night and heads for a full vote, but not without some drama.

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

Working together, they’d have the power to take a vote of no-confidence in the police superintendent.

But even if that made it to Mayor Lightfoot’s desk, while hard to ignore, she wouldn’t be bound by it.

Lightfoot initially promised civilian oversight during her first 100 days in office, and said back in May, “I absolutely still support and will be offering my own proposal for civilian oversight, but police policy is complicated.”

Commissioners would also have the power to draft policy for the likes of CPD and COPA, but again they could be overruled.

The proposed ordinance would also provide more oversight for each of the 22 police districts by creating elected three-member councils to work in each district.

The Public Safety Committee met at 5 p.m. to vote on the ordinance. But shortly after the meeting began, the committee took an unexpected recess.

Chicago FOP President John Catanzara questioned by the police need more oversight and said the ordinance would allow criminals to oversee the police.

“The police have several layers of oversight already. We’re looking at IED, COPA, Inspector General, just to name a few. You have the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office. You have the State (of Illinois) Attorney General’s office,” Catanzara said. “You have the training and certification standards board down in Springfield – that’s six layers of oversight, right now. There is no need to add a seventh.”

Some council members said granting greater civilian oversight of the department is the most effective way to respond to long-standing complaints about excessive force.

“One of our children died, murdered by police. He wasn’t the only one. Adam Toledo was hot by the police. We don’t want more Adam Toledos, and we don’t want more Laquan McDonalds,” Ald. Carlos Ramirez Rosa said.

The full vote is expected to be taken Wednesday.

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