Mayor Emanuel Announces COPA to Replace IPRA; Details Begin To Emerge

Aldermen are still seeking specifics, particularly a budget, before they vote on the proposal

In the wake of the Laquan McDonald shooting, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has promised to change the Independent Police Review Authority, the agency that investigates police misconduct.

Aldermen have also demanded the agency be revamped, but they say the mayor wants a vote on the changes before they understand the details.

The IPRA has investigated 400 police shootings, finding all but two justified, before the fallout from the Laquan McDonald shooting.

When it comes to who will police the police, the new agency looks to have broad investigative powers.

"We're going to listen to each other, certain things we'll agree with each other, certain things we won't," Emanuel said.

Several reports say the new agency, the Civilian Office on Police Accountability, or COPA, will replace the IPRA. It will have its own inspector general chosen by the city's inspector general, Joe Ferguson, and approved by Chicago's City Council.

COPA will not be able to hire former police officers or prosecutors as investigators, unless they're five years removed from those offices.

5th Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston says that's not long enough.

"If we are really going to have a body that people can respect, I’m not sure five years is the key because five years, I can still have relatives there and that could taint the process," she said.

Hairston and 28th Ward Alderman Jason Ervin will present an alternative to the mayor's plans. Other factors in police reform include a new police contract, the current investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, and a community oversight board.

"If you're good police officer, you’re doing your work then this is not going to impact you at all, in fact this is going to give you some protections," Hairston said.

The mayor has yet to say what the agency's budget will be, and aldermen in turn say that a September vote is too soon.

"I'm not going to allow two weeks to be a stumbling block because we’ve built up a lot of good will," Emanuel said.

Even those who usually disagree with the mayor say his plans are a decent start, but aldermen want to see what kind of money is budgeted before they give it their stamp of approval.

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