Public hearings on proposed reforms to the Chicago Police Department’s accountability systems will be held July 6 and 7, according to the chairs of City Council’s Public Safety and Budget Committees, Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30) and Ald. Carrie Austin (34). The two publicly released a letter sent to members of the Coalition to Follow Up on the Police Accountability Task Force (PATF) yesterday evening, saying with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, they have “collectively decided to provide opportunity for additional public comment” before introducing an ordinance on these reforms for the City Council July 20.
“It is our intention to work together to draft an ordinance that will fundamentally reshape our system of police accountability” that “will reflect the basic tenets of the recommendations made by the Police Accountability Task Force,” the letter reads. “We believe that taking this extra step to engage the public will ensure that the final ordinance language reflects the views, voices, and deeply-held beliefs of Chicago’s citizens.”
Last week, Police Board President Lori Lightfoot joined the Chicago Urban League’s Shari Runner and others from the Coalition to Follow Up on the PATF to call for more public engagement and transparency before any ordinance on police reform is presented to the City Council.
“We’re talking about fundamentally reshaping the entire local law enforcement structure,” Lightfoot told Aldertrack last week. “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.”
The Coalition warned that any reform ordinance would lack legitimacy without a public, transparent process, and the city should develop a strategic plan for “prioritizing, further defining, and effectively implementing large segments of the Task Force recommendations,” which weren’t intended to be cherry-picked. “There is no need for this work to be cloistered in City Hall when people all over this City can and should be involved,” the letter said. Lightfoot, the President of the Chicago Police Board also expressed interest in the Board drafting its own reform language for the CPD.
Hearing times have not been posted as of publication. Later yesterday, aldermen also received a letter from 12 community-based organizations asking them not to move on a mayoral proposal until they “heard the voices of the people in your community and can therefore fairly represent the views of your constituents.” Signees included ONE Northside, Action Now, Communities United, Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, Enlace Chicago, and the Community Renewal Society.