Aldermen Optimistic Deal to Create Elected Board to Oversee Chicago Police Will Be OK’d

Video: Alds. Scott Waguespack, Emma Mitts, Matt Martin and Andre Vasquez weigh in on a police oversight board and more on “Chicago Tonight.” Watch part two of our conversation. (Produced by Paul Caine)

A proposal to create an elected board of Chicagoans to oversee the Chicago Police Department is likely to pass easily, now that it has the backing of a coalition of community groups and Mayor Lori Lightfoot, several aldermen told “Chicago Tonight” on Monday.

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The first test of the agreement is set for 5 p.m. Tuesday, when the City Council’s Public Safety Committee will consider the proposal. If the panel endorses the proposal, a final vote could come during Wednesday’s full City Council meeting and end years of intense debate.

“Nothing is easy, but I do feel confident that we will have the votes to get this passed,” said Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th Ward).

READ: Deal Reached to Create Elected Board to Oversee Chicago Police, Lightfoot Announces

The crucial sticking point in negotiations between Lightfoot and the coalition of community organizations — which delayed a deal for nearly 16 months — centered on the push to fundamentally shift control of the police department from the mayor’s office to elected members of the community.

Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd Ward) said the agreement strikes the right balance between allowing members of the community to oversee the police department while ensuring that politicians can still be held accountable for the department’s operations.

Ald. Emma Mitts (37th Ward) dismissed concerns that the new layer of police oversight would be cumbersome or add red tape.

“I don’t think we can have too much (oversight),” Mitts said. “I’m excited about it. It has been a long time getting here.”

Ald. Matt Martin (47th Ward) said the oversight panel would help to ensure the Chicago Police Department no longer routinely violates the constitutional rights of Black and Latino Chicagoans, and address the issued detailed by the 2017 investigation conducted by the Department of Justice.

“This is a critical step in the right way,” Martin said.

Vasquez said he was hopeful the new oversight panel would help build “faith and trust” in the Chicago Police Department and reduce crime.

“If passed, this ordinance would bring an historic, transformative and balanced approach to civilian oversight,” according to a joint statement from the mayor and the coalition that heralded the proposal as “landmark legislation.”

The current proposal would give the board the final say on policy for the Chicago Police Department, but also give the mayor a veto that could be overridden by a two-thirds vote of the Chicago City Council.  

In addition, the Empowering Communities for Public Safety ordinance would create a two-tiered system of accountability for police officers by focusing on each of the 22 police districts as well as citywide. It would recommend candidates for police superintendent and the Police Board to the mayor.

The elected board would have the power to hire and fire the head of the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, known as COPA, which is the agency charged with probing police misconduct, according to the proposal set for a vote.

In addition, the proposal would allow the elected oversight board to pass a resolution of no confidence in the superintendent and any member of the Chicago Police Board with a two-thirds vote. That could trigger City Council action.

A council made up of non-citizens would advise the commission on issues impacting Chicago’s immigrant and undocumented community, according to the proposed ordinance.

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

Video: The Chicago ward remap process and more in part two of our “Chicago Tonight” conversation with Alds. Scott Waguespack, Emma Mitts, Matt Martin and Andre Vasquez. (Produced by Paul Caine)

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