Chicago Police

Lightfoot Calls for Licensing, Certification for Police Officers

She said she directed her legal team to research and draft legislation for the move

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Thursday called for a change in state law that would require licensing and certification for police officers.

Lightfoot revealed her plan Thursday during a press conference condemning actions from more than a dozen Chicago officers who were caught on camera "lounging" in a congressman's campaign office amid looting and unrest in the city earlier this month.

She said she directed her legal team to research and draft legislation for the move.

"I am ready," she said. "I am ready to work with the governor and our other great partners in Springfield to forge a change in state law to require licensing and certification of police officers. And I'm grateful for the attendance of Brad Cole, the leader of the Illinois Municipal League, and we will work together to make sure that we get this legislation passed."

Lightfoot has mentioned such an idea in previous days when asked about calls from protesters to "defund the police," a move she has said she did not want to take.

"It's time really, actually it's way past time for this change in our state," Lightfoot said. "And licensing is just one of several new measures that we must Institute to make individual officers and departments far more accountable to the people."

Already in recent weeks the department has relieved multiple officers of their police powers as investigations are ongoing into at least three incidents. The officers in the most recent video from Rush's office have not yet been identified but Lightfoot promised a thorough investigation and to "hold them accountable."

"You're not serving or protecting anybody when you're shouting a derogatory slur or gesture at them. You're not serving or protecting when you pull people by their out of their cars by their hair and beat the daylights out of them in the street. You're not serving or protecting when you make movie popcorn, and put up your feet and lounge while your fellow officers down the street getting a hell beaten out of them and doing what they sworn an oath to do," Lightfoot said. "So today, yes, we are angry. But we're also resolved. And we are committed."

In a television appearance Sunday night, Lightfoot teased "monumental reforms" to be announced in the coming days but said she believed the push to defund police is not "really what's underlying" the continued demonstrations.

"I’m hoping that we're going to announce soon some pretty monumental reforms that we pushed for and we've won, and to set the stage for what I know is going to be a long fight around police reform," Lightfoot said on "Kasie DC" on MSNBC, highlighting police contracts as "a significant part of the problem."

"We've got to get unions to understand that they've got to be part of the solution, and not part of the problem," she continued.

When asked about protesters' calls to defund police, Lightfoot demurred as she has done before in recent days.

"I think what's really underlying this is communities that have been disinvested in for decades and are crying out for resources want resources put into their communities and I agree with that 100%," Lightfoot said. "I ran on this. And we have taken very specific steps to make sure that our communities of color in particular have the resources that they need to be able to thrive and be vibrant."

"We know that people will need public safety, but they also need jobs, they need opportunity. They need a pipeline to legitimate economy," Lightfoot continued. "And that's what we have to bring as cities. It's not an either/or proposition, it's both. And what needs to lead is making investments in communities around public safety, making investments in mental health, closing health care disparities, and giving people the opportunity to have a pipeline to legitimate jobs in the economy."

Also on Thursday, Lightfoot said "there will be a reckoning" for the city's Fraternal Order of Police.

"There will be a reckoning for the FOP," Lightfoot said. "And I think that moment is now and that's what I'll say about that."

Contact Us