The Chicago City Council on Wednesday heard testimony from the head of the city agency that investigates police-brutality complaints. But the aldermen skipped the chance to ask him about the city’s handling of a police commander who faces felony charges in a case that began with one of those complaints.
The occasion was the annual Independent Police Review Authority budget hearing. IPRA Chief Administrator Scott Ando (see photo) testified about a reduction in a backlog of open investigations and about new community outreach. Ando said the most important new outreach vehicles are IPRA’s first two satellite offices, one on the West Side and another coming soon on the South Side.
The few aldermen who spoke at the hearing congratulated Ando. “You’re doing more with less,” Ald. Matthew O’Shea (19th Ward) said.
More notable was what did not come up. Aldermen asked no questions about IPRA’s performance investigating fatal shootings by Chicago officers or about the number of excessive-force complaints the agency has sustained.
And they did not ask about Glenn Evans, the embattled commander, who allegedly rammed his service pistol down an arrested man’s throat last year. In April, a test showed the arrestee’s DNA on the gun. The test led Ando to recommend that police Supt. Garry McCarthy strip Evans of his police powers, pending the investigation’s outcome. WBEZ revealed the case in July.
Despite IPRA's recomendation, McCarthy, backed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, continued to publicly support Evans. They left him in command of the Harrison District until the criminal charges August 27.
Outside the hearing, Ald. Howard Brookins Jr. (21st) said the Emanuel administration’s handling of Evans “sends a signal to the community that things have not changed since the Burge era,” referring to former Chicago police Cmdr. Jon Burge, implicated in the torture of dozens of African-American men.
“This behavior appears to be a systemic problem in the police department,” Brookins said. “The superintendent of police and all of the authorities have to show that this conduct will no longer be tolerated. And until there are outward expressions and actions to back that up, it is going to be hard to get away from that impression of the community just by opening a few satellite offices.”