Police Union: Plan For More Civilian Oversight Will Make It Harder To Fight Crime | WBEZ
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Police Union: Plan For More Civilian Oversight Will Make It Harder To Fight Crime

The union that represents 10,000 Chicago cops is not happy about Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to expand their civilian oversight.

Emanuel is proposing an ordinance that would create a police watchdog unit within the city’s Inspector General’s Office. The mayor’s also promising another new entity, a “community-oversight board,” down the road.

It all worries Dean Angelo Sr., president of Lodge 7 of the Fraternal Order of Police.

“Violent crime and shootings and homicides are going through the roof,” Angelo said Thursday. “If we continue to blanket this profession with multiple layers of civilian involvement — [people] that don’t know how this job is supposed to be performed — that’s very dangerous for the law-abiding populations of our inner cities.”

Angelo says new layers of civilian oversight could affect Chicago policing for generations and make it harder for cops to fight crime.

Emanuel’s ordinance would also replace the Independent Police Review Authority, an agency set up in 2007 to investigate police shootings and complaints about excessive force and other serious misconduct. IPRA’s successor, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, would have jurisdiction over a wider array of complaints.

Those include improper searches and unlawful denial of access to counsel — beefs handled for years by the police department’s Internal Affairs Division.

Angelo said there is no good reason to narrow internal affairs’ jurisdiction.

“These are trained investigators, proficient at their task,” he said. “They hand out a lot of suspension time. But no one trusts the police anymore. God forbid you have a police officer investigating police officers.”

The mayor’s office did not respond to Angelo’s criticism.

Attorney Lori Lightfoot, who led a mayor-appointed task force that laid the groundwork for the proposed ordinance, pointed out that Chicago officers have worked under civilian oversight since 1974, when Mayor Richard J. Daley’s administration created IPRA’s predecessor, the Office of Professional Standards.

“The notion that someone who is not a sworn police officer will never understand or appreciate the job is belied by years of experience in Chicago and jurisdictions across the country,” said Lightfoot, who is also president of the city’s Police Board.

Chip Mitchell reports out of WBEZ’s West Side studio. Follow him on Twitter (@ChipMitchell1 and @WBEZoutloud) and connect with him through Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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