Updated October 4, 2016 at 7:21 a.m.
On Tuesday morning, the City Council Joint Committee on Budget and Public Safety will take up Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s proposed police reform ordinance, which contains some of the biggest changes to Chicago’s criminal justice system in decades. Two other draft ordinances on police reform sponsored by Ald. Leslie Hairston (4) and Ald. Jason Ervin (28) are not on the agenda, but aspects of both plans were included to the mayor’s reform plan. The full Council is expected to vote on the ordinance on Wednesday.
The final draft of the mayor’s draft ordinance, released last Friday, focuses on two major changes to police oversight. First, the creation of a Civilian Office of Police Oversight (COPA) to replace and enhance many of the functions of the failed Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA). Second, the creation of a Deputy Inspector General, a “Police IG” who will have the power to audit COPA and the Chicago Police Department. The Police IG will be located within the Chicago Office of the Inspector General, currently led by Joe Ferguson.
One significant element missing from the proposed ordinance is the creation of a community safety oversight board, a recommendation from the Police Accountability Task Force (PATF) to create an entity comprised of community representatives that will have the power to oversee CPD, its Bureau of Internal Affairs, and the new COPA organization. That aspect of the reform plan won’t be considered for another six to nine months, according to the Mayor’s Office.
Briefing Materials From Mayor’s Office
Ervin (FAIR Cops) Ordinance Comparison – This document outlines which aspects of Ald. Jason Ervin’s (28) FAIR Cops Ordinance the administration included in their police reform plan. According to the chart, one recommendation, that the police department could be forced to implement recommendations from the new Public Safety Inspector General, was not included.
Hairston Ordinance Comparison – One provision in Ald. Leslie Hairston’s (5) police reform ordinance was not included, according to this chart. Ald. Hairston called for the creation of a selection process for the new chief administrator that involves community input.
IPRA/COPA Matrix – This chart compares IPRA’s current powers and duties with that of COPA, what Ald. Hairston had called for in her police reform ordinance, and what the mayor’s Police Accountability Task Force recommended.
Public Safety Deputy/FAIR Cops Matrix – Similar to the above chart, this document compares the proposed role of the Public Safety Deputy, the recommendations outlined in Ald. Ervin’s FAIR Cops ordinance, and the recommendations of the PATF report.
Listen to our podcast: The “Fatal Flaws” In The Mayor’s Police Oversight Fixes
Drafts of the ordinance were closely held until last week. The Mayor’s office conducted briefings with dozens of community groups in August and September, according to those who participated. Over a dozen community meetings were held across Chicago by the City Council, the Justice Department, and the PATF. Not leaving anything to chance, private briefings were held with community leaders until the last minute, including a briefing of black activists Monday afternoon at the Chicago Police headquarters at 35th Street and Michigan Ave.
As a result, many community leaders and aldermen expect it to pass through committee easily tomorrow.
“Not smooth sailing but enough support to finish, I think,” said Latino Caucus Chair Ald. George Cardenas (12), on Monday. Half a dozen other aldermen contacted by The Daily Line agreed with Cardenas’ assessment. If there were any stumbling blocks, aldermen thought the lack of a community oversight component would be the biggest.
Despite expectations of easy passage, two groups plan protest press conferences Tuesday morning. One led by Rainbow PUSH, NAACP and The Community Renewal Society, plan a protest at 9:30 a.m. outside Council chambers to urge a no vote against a “toothless police oversight ordinance.” A second group, The Chicago Alliance Against Racist & Political Repression, will protest at 9:00 a.m. outside Council chambers to urge passage of a elected Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC).
One the city’s leading proponents for police reform, Police Board President and Chair of the Police Accountability Task Force, Lori Lightfoot, is unreservedly in support of the proposed ordinance.
“I support it and urge passage of it. Most of the key elements from the Police Accountability Task Force are in the ordinance, like giving access to [outside] counsel and a guaranteed minimum budget,” Lightfoot said.
The access to counsel component was clarified in a final draft released by the Mayor’s office Friday, which would allow COPA to hire legal counsel outside of the city’s Law Department to assist in investigations from a pool developed in consultation with the Law Department. A guaranteed minimum budget of 1% of the police budget would be set for COPA, which results in about $14 million a year based on CPD’s current $1.4 billion annual budget. And the Inspector General’s annual budget would increase from 0.1% to 0.14% of the city’s general fund to support the new deputy position.
Steve Patton, the city’s Corporation Counsel, has said numerous community organizations requested legislation on a community oversight board be delayed. Lightfoot and other PATF members confirmed that request.
“There were ten to twelve community groups that met with the mayor’s office over the summer. They asked that they needed more time to find ways to increase engagement across the city,” said Lightfoot. “There needs to be a very robust community engagement process, and I was supportive of taking the time we needed to get that right.”
Those community groups, coordinated by Rev. Ron Taylor of United Congress of Community and Religious Organizations include Communities United, ONE Northside, Southwest Organizing Project, Inner City Muslim Action Network, Target Area Development Corporation, Workers Center for Racial Justice, Action Now, Enlace, Community Renewal Society and Southsiders Organized for Unity And Liberation (SOUL).
“It would have been crazy to have the Mayor’s office draft an ordinance about community oversight without community engagement,” said Adam Gross of Business and Professional People For The Public Interest, who participated in discussions with the Mayor’s office. “Under pressure, the Mayor’s office said they’d step back and let there be a process.”