The head of Chicago’s Independent Police Review Authority says a proposal by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to abolish her agency would be “a huge opportunity.” But some aldermen say they need more details about the plan.
IPRA Chief Administrator Sharon Fairley, speaking Monday afternoon on a panel about police accountability, said she and Emanuel had had an “ongoing dialog” about whether the agency should be replaced.
A mayoral task force on police accountability recommended abolishing IPRA in a report last month. Emanuel announced his support for that idea in a newspaper essay on Friday.
On the panel, Fairley seemed to be taking it all in stride.
“I’ve gotten a lot of phone calls, people calling me up and saying, ‘Are you OK?’ ” she said. “[But] I’m just really optimistic about all this. I really see this as an opportunity for true reform. We have a blank slate. How often do we get that? Practically never. This is a huge opportunity to design a system that can really work.”
Emanuel appointed Fairley to run IPRA in December during a public outcry over a video showing a Chicago officer fatally shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. The agency had long been accused of covering up police misconduct.
Fairley said changes she has been making at IPRA would “jumpstart” the city’s work to create the agency’s successor.
Emanuel’s essay said Alds. Ariel Reboyras (30th Ward) and Willie Cochran (20th), a former Chicago police officer, would help him draft the ordinance setting up the new entity.
Reboyras, who chairs the city council’s Public Safety Committee, said on Monday he did not have any further details about Emanuel’s plan. Reboyras said he expected the mayor would include Alds. Jason Ervin (28th) and Leslie Hairston (5th Ward) in the process.
Ervin and Hairston have introduced separate proposals to replace IPRA. Ervin said the mayor should involve them so he is not “reinventing the wheel.”
Ald. John Arena (45th) criticized the lack of detail and pointed out that one of IPRA’s problems is “a credibility issue.”
“I think the administration would serve itself better if it start[ed] bringing partners to the table and talking things through before just making moves that again might be window dressing,” Arena said.
Chip Mitchell reports from WBEZ’s West Side bureau. Follow him @cmitchell1. Lauren Chooljian covers city politics for the station. Follow her @laurenchooljian.