Lori Lightfoot

Lightfoot Proposes Plan for Civilian Oversight of Chicago Police Department

Under the proposal, seven Chicago residents would form a commission that would assess and provide input on Chicago police leadership and organizations, among other tasks

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday announced plans to propose the creation of a commission that would mean civilian-led oversight of the Chicago Police Department.

Under the proposal, seven Chicago residents would form a commission that would assess and provide input on Chicago police leadership and organizations, among other tasks. The group would also oversee the Civilian Office of Police Accountability and the Police Board.

"This proposal will significantly overhaul how the Chicago Police Department's leadership and members are overseen, managed and held accountable when necessary," Lightfoot said in a statement. "Creating a civilian commission like this one has long been a goal of mine and it will allow us to continue making progress in our mission to holistically reform our police department. I want to thank everyone who helped to craft this historic ordinance and look forward to working that much harder to ensure Chicago's police ultimately answer to the residents they serve." 

Lightfoot had proposed the creation of such a team as part of her campaign for mayor and discussions about the proposal have been ongoing for years.

Chicago Police Supt. David Brown declined to comment on the idea last month, saying he wouldn't do "politics."

"I have no desire at all to be the 51st Alderman and chime in on unsettled issues in City Council," Brown said at the time. "I don't believe my role should be to tip the scales either way before that public discourse is completed and voted on and approved by Mayor Lightfoot."

Under the plan, the commission, which would not have any citizenship requirements or restrictions, would begin its work as early as Jan. 1, 2022. If the proposal is approved by City Council, the commission would then have the powers to:

  • Assess performance of and set goals for the Superintendent, Chief Administrator, and Police Board President;  
  • Direct the Public Safety Inspector General to conduct research and audits on specific topics or issues; 
  • Review and provide input to the Chief Administrator, Public Safety Inspector General, Superintendent, Police Board, and other City departments and offices, including the Mayor, City Council Committee on Public Safety, and Corporation Counsel, on the police accountability system, police services, and Department policies and practices of significance to the public; 
  • Collaborate with the Department, COPA, and the Police Board in the development of new or amended policy;  
  • Review and approve by majority vote any proposed new or amended Policy;  
  • Interview, assess the qualifications of, and recommend to the Mayor candidates having appropriate qualifications for the positions of Superintendent, Chief Administrator, and Police Board member; 
  • Introduce and adopt a resolution of no confidence on the fitness of the Superintendent, Chief Administrator, or a Police Board member to hold their position; 
  • Before a City Council vote on the annual budget, prepare and submit to the Budget Director a detailed and factually supported budget submission, then review and, if warranted, recommend changes to the proposed Department budget appropriation; and 
  • Direct the Chief Administrator to investigate complaints of police misconduct consistent with COPA’s defined jurisdiction. 

“This plan is truly a turning point for police reform and accountability for this city,” Chris Taliaferro, chairman of the Public Safety Committee, said in a statement. “Once approved, police officers will now be answerable to the public who they are hired to protect and serve, and as a former police officer and lifelong resident, I am proud to know that Chicagoans from every walk of life will now have an equal opportunity to oversee their police.”   

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