Emanuel: Let’s Replace IPRA With Civilian Board | WBEZ
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Emanuel: Let’s Replace IPRA With Civilian Board

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to throw out the Independent Police Review Authority and replace it with a civilian board.

In an editorial posted in the Chicago Sun-Times, Emanuel writes that his goal of bringing safety to every community and building trust in the police requires “creating a new system for police accountability and oversight.”

The mayor’s announcement comes after his Task Force on Police Accountability issued a blistering report that recommended IPRA be replaced, and said police in Chicago have “no regard for the sanctity of life when it comes to people of color.” Emanuel created the task force in December, a week after the city complied with a judge’s order to release a video of the fatal police shooting of Laquan McDonald. IPRA has long been criticized for slow investigations of complaints that seldom led to discipline.

Many of the details of the mayor’s plan will be finalized over the coming weeks, but Emanuel said he plans to replace IPRA with an independent, civilian agency with more resources to do its work. He complimented the work of current IPRA Chief Administrator Sharon Fairley, but said “it is clear that a totally new agency is required to rebuild trust in investigations of officer-involved shootings and the most serious allegations of police misconduct.”

In a statement, Fairley called the mayor’s decision “an important and necessary first step toward the true reform we have all been working on for the past several months.”

“We know that in order for police accountability to be truly effective it has to have the support and trust of the community. I believe this commitment will start the process of building a system that will engender that trust. I look forward to working with the community, the alderman and the mayor’s office to bring about the changes the citizens of Chicago expect and deserve.”

This was not what the Mayor originally said he would do with the police oversight agency, but he never ruled out the possibility. After a mayoral appointed task force called for a complete revamping of IPRA, Emanuel told reporters that he wanted the wait for the DOJ to complete their investigation before making any changes to the agency.

In his editorial, the mayor says conversations between the DOJ and his administration, as well as input from aldermen, community leaders and the Police Accountability Task Force will help inform this plan. He says he’ll introduce details at next month’s city council meeting.

Emanuel wants to create a new Public Safety Inspector General to audit police officers and investigations completed by the civilian oversight agency. He’s also calling for a new Community Safety Oversight Board to oversee the entire police accountability system. That board will be made up of Chicago residents and will require regular reporting from the police department and other levels of the new system.

This will be the second time the mayor implements recommendations of his police accountability task force. Last month, the mayor announced his office and the police department would implement about a third of the panel’s suggestions, including strengthening the department's accountability system so it can hold officers responsible for wrongdoing, and improving cultural sensitivity training for officers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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