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Daley: Police Department Not Able To Police Itself

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Chicago Mayor Richard Daley says the office that investigates police wrongdoing shouldn’t be a part of the Police Department itself any longer.He’s putting that idea in an ordinance before the City Council next week. If the ordinance passes, the Office of Professional Standards, or O.P.S, will become a separate city agency that reports to the mayor. Chicago Public Radio’s Diantha Parker reports.

Daley says he’s aware that citizens of Chicago don’t fully trust the Police Department, never mind its ability to police itself.

DALEY: All the good work that the police department can do, one incident can undo it.

Daley acknowledges that several incidents and allegations led to this proposal, although he said it was in the works long before videotape surfaced in March of off-duty officers beating civilians. Under the new plan, the O.P.S chief will be appointed by the mayor. Former Chicago Police Superintendent Terry Hillard is heading up a committee that’s choosing candidates now. Other changes include giving O.P.S. subpeona power, and limiting investigations to 6 months. They can’t go longer without a written explanation from the superintendent, who must also respond to all complaints within 90 days. Mara Georges heads the city’s Law Department.

GEORGES: This tightens that process, makes the superintendent accountable, makes summary reports of OPS transparent to the public , transparent and open, so the public will know what the OPS recommendation was, and the public will know what action the superintendent took.

One reporter, not me, asked if Daley thought this new plan might break down the so-called blue wall of silence-- cops shielding other cops. A few of the 21 officials and community leaders standing behind the mayor as he spoke actually got wide-eyed at Daley’s answer.

DALEY: Well there’s always a blue wall of lawyers, journalists, you know that in your profession you have that every day. I mean you know journalists how they protect each others, and lawyers protect each other. That happens within professions.

But Daley acknowledged that fairly or unfairly, this plan to separate O.P.S. was hatched because people do think the wall exists. For that to change, he said, the Police Department has to. I’m Diantha Parker, Chicago Public Radio

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