Releasing what is likely the most forceful Chicago city-sponsored document on race and criminal justice ever, Police Accountability Task Force Chair Lori Lightfootdelivered a 45-minute, unflinching presentation at the Harold Washington Library yesterday afternoon with her fellow Task Force members, recommending a wholesale overhaul of Chicago Police Department training, the police union bargaining agreement, personnel discipline and a significant increase in civilian oversight of the department.
Few sacred cows went untouched by the report, beginning with the opening sentence, “A painful but necessary reckoning is upon us. That is what these times demand.”
Originally scheduled to be released today, according to a source familiar with the task force, the report release was moved up a day to respond to the leaked executive summary reported by the Chicago Tribune on Tuesday afternoon. There were few differences between the leaked version and the final release: some softening of language and a few more bullet points added.
Lightfoot personally wrote most of the 200 page report, the Aldertrack source said, especially the executive summary–the part that packs the most punch. While there were 39 people on the task force, the main contributors were Lightfoot, Deval Patrick, Joe Ferguson, Randolph Stone, Sergio Acosta, Victor Dickenson, Maurice Classen, Alexa James and Sybiil Madison-Boyd (bios here).
Quoting the four most poignant findings:
“We arrived at this point because of racism.
“We arrived at this point because of a mentality in CPD that the ends justify the means.
“We arrived at this point because of a failure to make accountability a core value and imperative within CPD.
“We arrived at this point because of a significant investment in human capital.”
The majority of the executive summary builds a careful case, using data and testimony from the four community meetings and three youth meetings, that change to Chicago’s criminal justice system is long overdue.
The final portion of the executive summary contains 25 specific recommendations that run the gamut from recommending creating a Community Safety Oversight Board, replacing the Independent Police Review Board with a different system, expanding body cams and to create an anonymous hotline for police officers to lodge complaints.
When Lightfoot released the report yesterday afternoon at 2:00 p.m., she was still scheduled to deliver the report to Mayor Rahm Emanuel for the first time at 4:15 p.m., so she could not speak to the Mayor’s level of support. For his part, Mayor Emanuel said in his 1:00 p.m. press briefing yesterday that he had not looked at any part of the report, so he could not comment on it.
Asked during the question and answer session of her presentation yesterday how she expected the recommended changes to be implemented, Lightfoot said, “We call upon all of you to not be on the sidelines, but to roll up your sleeves and be champions of change.”