Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle would give away the power to appoint the leaders of police oversight and discipline agencies if elected mayor of Chicago. It’s one of the promises made in a criminal justice plan released by her campaign on Monday that adopts positions pushed over the last few years by some activists who have organized around policing issues. Preckwinkle also promises to put a temporary hold on the construction of a $95 million police training facility and to get rid of the Chicago police department’s controversial gang database.
The database, which tracks suspected gang members in Chicago, is the subject of a federal lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges the database is “over-inclusive” and “error-ridden.” According to the lawsuit, the database includes approximately 11 percent of Chicago’s Black population, 4 percent of its Latinx population, and only 0.6 percent of its white population.
“Not only can it be used to unjustly harass and detain people, but CPD provides this often incorrect information to third parties, including [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] (ICE),” Preckwinkle said in her plan.
“Nothing is more critical to keeping Chicago safe than restoring the trust between CPD
and the residents it serves,” said Preckwinkle.
Preckwinkle is also promising support for a community commission to oversee the accountability of Chicago’s police force. There are multiple proposals for such a civilian group. Preckwinkle says she supports the one put forward by the Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability (GAPA). That plan would curtail the mayor’s power by giving the civilian group the power to hire and fire the head of the agency that investigates police shootings and serious misconduct. The commission would also select the members of the police board which makes decisions on discipline for cops and the commission would pick the pool of candidates from which the mayor would choose the superintendent of police.
“I think it’s important that those most impacted have a meaningful role in police accountability,” said Preckwinkle.
Preckwinkle’s plan includes a Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, which would attempt to tackle a wide range of issues, including gun violence, juvenile justice, and neighborhood stabilization. Other mayoral candidates, also have also called for the creation of a mayor’s office focused on crime and public safety.
Preckwinkle stopped short of saying she opposed construction of the controversial $95 million dollar training academy for police, but she did say she would freeze construction until further review. She said training for officers is important but “when it comes to overhauling police training, our highest priority is curriculum and content, not buildings and amenities.” Proponents of the academy have said the police department is in desperate need of better training facilities. But the academy has been criticized by activists, who say resources should instead be directed towards community services and schools.