While the police reform process continues to grind along–including the recent release of updated police use of force recommendations and potential changes to begin community oversight of CPD–there has been a significant amount of turnover in elements of the criminal justice system over the past 15 months. What follows is a status update on major offices and departments and their leaders: who has stayed, who has gone, and what is left unfilled.
Two mayoral staff that played prominent roles in the police reform ordinance the council approved have left the administration. Corporation Counsel Steve Patton exited in February, replaced with Ed Siskel, an attorney in Washington D.C. the city hired as an independent contractor to help the city navigate through the Department of Justice probe.
In April, the administration hired a new Deputy Chief of Staff for Public Safety, Walter Katz, to fill the vacancy left by Janey Rountree in January.
Deputy Mayor Andrea Zopp was also elevated to take on public safety issues. New public safety policy and counsel positions were also added under Zopp (then Katz), filled by Deanne Millison and Brandon Nemec to help supplant another exit–Katie Hill, the mayor’s senior public policy advisor. She is now working for State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.
Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office
Cook County State’s Attorney Foxx was sworn in on December 1, 2016 as the first black female SA in the county’s history, but had changed the conversation on local crime and the prosecution of police officers months before, when it became apparent she’d be replacing Anita Alvarez after the Laquan McDonald video release fallout, and the prosecution of Officer Jason Van Dyke.
Foxx has since been working to raise the profile of the office–filing first-degree murder charges in two police-involved shooting cases “within days, not months, of the incidents occurring,” drafting legislation to allow the state’s appellate prosecutor’s office to review fatal officer involved shooting cases, launching a conviction integrity unit, and endorsing bond reform for the county’s criminal justice system. Her first 100 days report also includes several mentions of face to face meetings with reform stakeholders and advocacy groups.
Chicago Police Department
After one of the oddest turns in the city’s police accountability saga–the resignation of Supt. Garry McCarthy, installation of interim Supt. John Escalante, the Police Board’s nationwide search for a replacement, and the mayor’s decision to toss out those recommendations–Supt. Eddie Johnson has served in his position now for more than a year. Since March of 2016, Johnson’s focus has centered on quelling crime, though he has heralded the department’s “Next Steps for Reform”, opened up the department’s development of new use of force policies for public comment, and is looking to revamp CPD’s community policing program.
The department has also seen some exits and promotions. Anne Kirkpatrick, brought on to oversee reform efforts at the department as the Chief of the Bureau of Professional Standards, abruptly left after seven months on the job to accept a position at the Oakland, California police department. Kirkpatrick was one of the finalists for the Superintendent job put forward by the Police Board that Mayor Emanuel tossed. The newly created position has since been folded under the purview of CPD’s Chief of Bureau of Support Services, Barbara West.
IPRA Chief Administrator Sharon Fairley is one of few mainstays since the beginning of the police accountability overhaul. The current administrator of the Independent Police Review Authority is in the middle of transitioning the office to an organization with broader authority, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability. The official switchover will take place just before Fairley hits the two year anniversary of her appointment: in September of 2015 (Mayor Emanuel tapped Fairley in December). She replaced Scott Ando. Fairley has since hired a First Deputy, Thomas Kim, the former Chief of Investigations for the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) in New York. He will manage COPA’s team of investigators.
Lori Lightfoot has also signed on for the long haul on police accountability–serving several roles as Police Board President, head and de facto spokesperson for the Police Accountability Task Force, and frequent go-to source for those assessing whether police reform changes announced by the mayor and CPD go far enough. Lightfoot has been one of the most public voices calling for further reforms.
The nine-member Police Board, the body that decides disciplinary cases involving allegations of police misconduct, has had a bit of turnover. John O’Malley (to complete the unexpired term of William Conlon, now Chair of the Chicago Board of Ethics), Steve Flores (to complete the unexpired term of Melissa Ballate), and Eva Dina-Delgado (to complete the unexpired term of Claudia Valenzuela).
Community Oversight Board
A new body composed of community members with some kind of oversight of the Chicago Police Department is still pending. Mayor Emanuel promised a Community Oversight Board, guided by local stakeholders, would take shape in January of 2017, but little has come out of the group in charge, the Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability since it released findings from a series of community meetings in March. A spokesperson for the group, Delmarie Cobb, suggested answers by the end of May, but has yet to release anything.
Joe Ferguson is still at the helm of the Chicago Office of the Inspector General, and was recently reappointed by Mayor Emanuel to another term. His office is building out its public safety section to audit different police oversight agencies, and added researcher Laura Kunard to head up the endeavor in April. The office is still staffing up, building out a physical space to accommodate new hires, and has released the first bits of data about CPD staffing.
Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7
The union representing the city’s rank and file officers has a fresh President, Kevin Graham, who will lead up negotiations for a new police contract with the city, beginning this summer. A longtime officer in the 19th District on the city’s North Side, Graham promised to protect his officers in contract negotiations, and has already pushed back against Black Caucus demands on affidavits, anonymous complaints, and other items within the contract that they say “makes it easy for officers to lie, and difficult for misconduct to be identified or investigated.”
The Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was appointed by President Donald Trump to replace A.G. Loretta Lynch in January, which many expected would eliminate the possibility of federal oversight of the Chicago Police Department. In early April, this seemed to be confirmed, when Sessions ordered a review of all consent decrees to follow certain principles, including this bullet point: “Local control and local accountability are necessary for effective local policing. It is not the responsibility of the federal government to manage non-federal law enforcement agencies.”
When the DOJ report was released, reporters asked both Mayor Emanuel and Lynch repeatedly about the fate of the city’s “Agreement in Principle” for federal oversight under the new Trump administration. Both assured that career attorneys at the DOJ would follow through, and that the mayor was committed to independently reforming police accountability systems regardless.
But the DOJ’s local presence, the U.S. Attorney of the Northern District of Illinois, has been filled in the interim by Joel R. Levin since March, when Zachary Fardon resigned. 92 other U.S. attorney posts around the country are similarly vacant, and now, fewer candidates seem likely to step up since the president’s handling of the Russia investigation.