Civil rights organizations and police reformers are expressing outrage against Mayor Rahm Emanuel for what they say is a rushed appointment of an administration insider to the city’s Police Board.
As The Daily Line reported last week, Emanuel appointed his deputy mayor, Andrea Zopp, to the board shortly after a valuable promotion to the city’s public-private economic development board, World Business Chicago.
On Wednesday, Public Safety Committee Chair Ariel Reboyras (30) filed a notice with the city clerk, setting a Thursday meeting for 9:45 a.m. to consider Zopp’s appointment to the board. That notice was filed one week from the day the appointment was filed.
The nine-member, mayor-appointed Police Board plays a critical role in the city’s police accountability structure. Once a month, the board meets to recommend disciplinary action against police officers accused of misconduct. The board reviews evidence gathered by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) or the police department’s Bureau of Internal Affairs.
“At this critical moment – when the Chicago police are in dire need of reform – selecting an insider in a rushed process does not advance public confidence in the police,” said Karen Sheley, Director of the Police Practices Project at the ACLU of Illinois.
Sheley’s organization is party to one of three federal lawsuits filed against the city that demand court-enforced police reforms to ensure full implementation of the recommendations outlined by the Department of Justice.
Zopp landed a job at City Hall two months after losing the March 2016 Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate seat now occupied by Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois). As the Deputy Mayor and Chief Neighborhood Development Officer, Zopp’s position was created so she could head the administration’s “neighborhood strategy.”
“By creating a second Deputy Mayor position, the city will now have one individual specifically responsible for making sure every city project and every city dollar expands opportunities for Chicagoans,” reads a mayoral press release from May 12, 2016. The appointment came at a time when Emanuel had record low approval ratings for his handling of the politically cataclysmic shooting of Laquan McDonald by Police Officer Jason Van Dyke.
The board is responsible for nominating Police Superintendent candidates. Last year, however, Emanuel temporarily changed that law after being unsatisfied with the candidates the board offered to replace ousted Supt. Garry McCarthy. McCarthy was fired within days of the court ordered release of dashcam footage showing police officer Van Dyke firing a 16 rounds at McDonald as he walks away.
Last month, Emanuel named Zopp the new CEO of World Business Chicago, a public private partnership to spur economic development and bolster the city’s business community. The board is made up of the city’s most prominent business executives and powerbrokers. The annual salary is $375,000.
An Oct. 24 press release said the post is nearly identical to Deputy Mayor’s. In that position Zopp “will build on the Mayor’s efforts to drive economic growth in neighborhoods throughout Chicago.”
Zopp would replace Rita Fry on the Police Board. Fry is president & CEO of her own consulting firm, RAF Consulting, Inc., and was first appointed to the board in 2012. Her term expired in August.
If confirmed by the full City Council, Zopp would serve until Aug. 10, 2022.