Yesterday morning, a group of 13 advocates for policing reform, led by Police Board President Lori Lightfoot, announced an open letter to Mayor Rahm Emanuel and leading aldermen calling for increased transparency on efforts to reform city police policy and to invite the public into Mayor Emanuel’s plans to replace the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), and to create a citizen’s oversight board and a public safety inspector general.
In a follow up interview with Aldertrack, Lightfoot made pointed remarks about the need for increased transparency and possible plans for the Police Board to make its own reform policies.
“The bar has been raised for public engagement,” Lightfoot told Aldertrack. “The status quo and old way of doing things has failed and has to be abandoned. Let people in, show transparency, show people what’s going on and invite people into the conversation.”
“We’re talking about fundamentally reshaping the entire local law enforcement structure,” she continued. “That is not something that can be done with a few people in the Mayor’s office. People are really interested in this topic. They are willing to give their time and talent to this issue. But you know, this is Chicago, so nothing is simple.”
Asked if the Police Board will use its statutory powers “to adopt rules and regulations for the governance of the police department”, to further press police reform, Lightfoot said, “I think there’s some interest on the current Police Board to craft responses to that provision. That is a discussion we are having. I expect us to come out with some thoughts on that relatively soon.”
Police Board members are appointed by the mayor for five year terms, and may only be removed for “just cause” such as “incompetence, neglect of duty, gross misconduct or criminal conduct.” The Mayor also appoints the president of the board for a two year term from among members of the board.
Aldermen are expected to hold a confirmation hearing for a new appointee, Eva-Dina Delgado, at a Public Safety Committee meeting June 14. If approved, Delgado, a registered lobbyist for People’s Gas, would replace Claudia Valenzuela, who resigned.
Lightfoot strongly endorsed Chief Administrator Sharon Fairley’s management of IPRA, saying she, “has done a really good job by righting the ship there.” She also had strong words of approval for one-time police superintendent candidate Anne Kirkpatrick, who was recently announced as the head of a new, reformulated Bureau of Professional Standards in the police department. “Anne Kirkpatrick is the real deal, no question about it. I can’t imagine she would leave the comfort of her home in Seattle if there was not an opportunity to do some real good.”
Kirkpatrick has served as the Chief of Police in Spokane, Washington and as Chief Deputy in the King’s County Sheriff’s Department.