Aldermen Advance Plan for Council Elected to Oversee Chicago Police, Final Vote Arrangement | Chicago News



Supporters of the Empowering Communities for Public Safety plan call for greater police accountability at a rally on April 21, 2021 (Heather Cherone / WTTW News)

A proposal to create an elected Chicago Residents Council to oversee the Chicago Police Department cleared a key city panel Tuesday 12-8, after a heated debate among aldermen over how to restore confidence in officers amidst a torrent of violent crime and repeated allegations of officer misconduct.

The Chicago City Council Public Safety Committee vote, which came after more than two hours of debate, sets up a final vote at the city council plenary meeting scheduled for Wednesday at 10 a.m. and places Chicago on the verge of enact the most ambitious police reform ordinance in the country.

The eight aldermen who voted against the proposal were Alds. Patrick Daley Thompson (11th constituency), Derrick Curtis (18th constituency), Ariel Reboyras (30th constituency), Nicholas Sposato (38th constituency), Samantha Nugent (39th constituency), Anthony Napolitano (41st constituency), Jim Gardiner (45th constituency) and Brendan Reilly (42nd parish.)

Four of these aldermen represent the Far Northwest Side, home to many police officers and where violent crime is rare.

The proposal – backed by Mayor Lori Lightfoot – must win at least 34 of 50 votes on Chicago City Council to hold elections to create three-member district councils in each of Chicago’s 22 police districts, while a seven-member commission would oversee the city.

Lightfoot took to Twitter to urge committee members to move forward with the plan, which has been in the works since 2016, and push back John Catanzara, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 7, who represents most of the base’s officers.

Catanzara, who faces misconduct charges that could prompt the Chicago Police Board to fire him, told aldermen there was no need to increase oversight of the Chicago Police Department.

A 2017 Department of Justice investigation into the police murder of 16-year-old Laquan McDonald found that Chicago police officers routinely violated the constitutional rights of blacks and Latin Americans in Chicago and were rarely kept. responsible for misconduct.

That investigation led to a federal court order that requires the Chicago Police Department to implement reforms under the direction of a federal judge.

“Surveillance is not a bad thing if you have nothing to hide,” Ald said. Jason Ervin (28th arrondissement).

Black Caucus Chairman Ervin said it was clear to him that opponents of the proposal had never felt what it was like to be forced onto the hood of a police car during a search .

Several city councilors who voted against the proposal to create an elected council to oversee the police service agreed with Catanzara that additional oversight was not needed, while others – including Napolitano, a former police officer – said that this would only complicate efforts to reduce crime.

Crime is down slightly this summer compared to summer 2020, when the city saw a significant increase in crime and violence despite restrictions designed to stop the spread of COVID-19. However, shootings have increased by about 60% from the summer of 2019 and killings have increased by almost 50% from two years ago – the last summer before the pandemic.

“We are dropping the ball,” Napolitano said.

The debate revealed a clear split between aldermen concerned about crime in Chicago. While some opposed the creation of an elected board of directors due to concerns about increasing crime, others said increased police oversight would actually reduce crime by restoring the trust of people. the community in the besieged department.

After years of debate, the proposal is ready for a final vote less than a week after Lightfoot agreed to support the ordinance drawn up by the Empowering Communities for Public Safety coalition, a group of community organizations that lobbied for the board of directors for years.

The crucial sticking point in the negotiations between Lightfoot and the coalition of grassroots organizations centered on who would have the final say on the policy of the Chicago Police Department.

The measure set for a vote on Wednesday would give council the final say on Chicago Police Department policy – but also give the mayor a veto that could be overruled by a two-thirds vote from Chicago City Council.

The new council would recommend candidates for the post of commissioner of police and commission of police to the mayor.

In addition, the elected council would have the power to hire and fire the head of the Civilian Police Accountability Office, known as COPA, which is the agency responsible for investigating police misconduct, according to the proposal set for a vote.

Additionally, the proposal would allow the elected supervisory board to pass a resolution of no confidence in the superintendent and any member of the Chicago Police Board with a two-thirds vote. This could trigger action by the city council.

A council made up of non-citizens would advise the commission on issues impacting Chicago’s immigrant and undocumented community, according to the proposed ordinance.

For 16 months, Lightfoot vehemently opposed all of these provisions, repeatedly claiming that ceding that kind of authority would prevent the mayor from keeping Chicago safe. His proposal would have given elected council members only the power to advise the mayor, but it only garnered nominal support from Chicago city council members.

City council was on the verge of adopting an earlier version of the proposal to create an elected council in March 2020, but the dispute over whether the mayor or council would set Chicago Police Department policy has condemned the plan developed by the Grassroots Association for Police. Liability, known as GAPA.

Even though Lightfoot backed the plan during her 2019 mayoral campaign and vowed to pass it in her first 100 days in office, she demanded that the mayor have the final say on politics just before a vote on the city ​​council, sending the push to legislative limbo which ended Tuesday night.

Contact Heather Cherone: @HeatherCherone | (773) 569-1863 | [email protected]


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