Police Reform Advocates, Aldermen Blast Lightfoot’s Plan for Police Oversight Board

This story is part of Policing: A “Chicago Tonight” Special on the anniversary of George Floyd’s murder.

Police reform advocates and progressive aldermen blasted Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s plan to create a seven-member civilian board to oversee the Chicago Police Department, saying Tuesday that it would not help restore trust in the beleaguered department.

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Tamer Abouzeid and Desmon Yancy, police reform advocates who have been working for years to put an elected board in charge of the Chicago Police Department, said in an interview Tuesday on “Chicago Tonight” that the mayor’s proposal will do nothing to address the decades of scandals, misconduct and brutality.

“What she has essentially done is copy and paste some portions of our proposal and then go on to remove any real authority or power and call it her own,” Abouzeid said. “I’m not really sure why it took seven months.”

The board proposed by Lightfoot would only have the power to “assess the performance of and set goals for the superintendent, chief administrator and police board president” and provide input — but not the final say — on departmental policy. 

Lightfoot’s plan would give the elected board the power to conduct a search and recommend candidates to the mayor to pick as police superintendent. That power now resides in the appointed Police Board.

The elected board would also recommend — but not select — the chief administrator for the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, known as COPA, and members of the Police Board.

The board would also only have the power to recommend the annual budget for the police department to the City Council.

“What we want is accountability,” Abouzeid said, adding that the police should be accountable “to the people.”

The city has allowed members of law enforcement to oversee the police department for decades, and that has not worked, Abouzeid said.

“The ordinance that she’s put forth doesn’t have the community voice, and hasn’t been vetted by the community,” Yancy said. “Because if she had, she’d have a different ordinance in front of us.”

Lightfoot’s plan puts her on a collision course with all three of the major City Council caucuses, which have endorsed the measure Yancy and Abouzeid helped craft known as Empowering Communities for Public Safety.

Several progressive aldermen joined Yancy and Abouzeid in blasting the mayor’s proposal, with Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th Ward) calling the plan “weak tea”.

Ald. Maria Hadden (49th Ward) called the mayor’s plan a half-measure of reform based on “magical thinking.”

Contact Heather Cherone: @HeatherCherone | (773) 569-1863 | [email protected]

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