Advocates want more accountability from Independent Police Review Authority

September 10, 2013

(Flickr/Isadora Ruyer-Harcourt)
File: Chicago Police. The Independent Police Review Authority was formed in 2007.

The Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) is suppose to provide oversight of the police, but a group of advocates say IPRA itself needs oversight.

The Leaders Network, a group of prominent clergy, say IPRA doesn’t hold the police accountable, citing a Chicago Reporter study that found IPRA only sustained 1% of complaints.

Ashunda Harris says her family's case is an example of what can go wrong. Her nephew, Aaron Harrison was killed in 2007 by Chicago police. IPRA found the shooting was justified, but last month a jury disagreed and awarded the family $8.5 million.

The director’s position at IPRA is currently vacant and Mayor Rahm Emanuel has assembled a committee to appoint the next director. The committee includes the activist pastor Michael Pfleger and Terry G. Hillard, former Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department. The advocates say the want the mayor to promise that the person he appoints will have backing from community leaders. Advocates also want  an independent civilian group to hold that director accountable by reviewing and critiquing IPRA’s annual report.

The Leadership Network’s Marshall Hatch says having good police oversight is an important part of fighting crime, “As a person who pastors in West Garfield Park and lives in Austin, we want people to believe in the police. We want the police and people to work together to solve crime. But you can’t do that until people have confidence in the police department.”

The Mayor’s office was unable to provide comment in time for this story.

Shannon Heffernan is a reporter for WBEZ follow her at @shannon_h