The Committee on Public Safety meets today to consider the appointment of Sharon Fairley as Chief Administrator of the Independent Police Review Authority, the independent body that investigates allegations of police misconduct. Fairley has been serving as acting IPRA head since December 6, when her predecessor, Scott Ando, left the position in the fallout over the release of the Laquan McDonald video.
This won’t be Fairley’s first time before the Committee on Public Safety. Aldermen put her through the ringer at a marathon joint committee hearing on police accountability on December 14. Fairley, brand new to the job, spent nearly four hours before the Council as they peppered her with questions relating to IPRA’s handling of the Laquan McDonald shooting. But she didn’t reveal much, largely telling aldermen she either wasn’t sure of the answer or would need to get back to their questions at a later date. Many of her comments focused on what she hoped to accomplish as the new head of the agency responsible for investigating allegations of police misconduct.
“She got her butt kicked,” one alderman said.
She didn’t fare much better at a press conference a few weeks later to announce staffing restructuring changes at IPRA that, “are just the beginning of improvements that I intend to make.” After announcing the hiring of a new Chief of Staff, Chief Investigator; intentions to hire more legal personnel, and expanding community outreach, Fairley struggled to get specific about changes to the agency, aside from offering comments from Authority representatives at some crime scenes and during active investigations. She abruptly ended her press conference after nine minutes of questioning from reporters, who called after her: “This is transparency?”
She served for nearly a decade as an Assistant United States Attorney in Chicago, working on drug and gang cases, federal criminal national security, financial and government program fraud, immigration, narcotics, and violent crime cases. Fairley served in the Chicago Office of the Inspector General as First Deputy and General Counsel for roughly nine months before her appointment, where she helped supervise the hiring oversight section.