Lightfoot Names 7 to Interim Police Oversight Board After Long Delay

Mayor Lori Lightfoot addresses the news media Monday, Aug. 29, 2022. (Heather Cherone/WTTW)Mayor Lori Lightfoot addresses the news media Monday, Aug. 29, 2022. (Heather Cherone/WTTW)

Mayor Lori Lightfoot named on Monday seven Chicago residents to serve on an interim commission overseeing the Chicago Police Department, and charged them with rebuilding trust in the scandal-plagued agency.

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The creation of the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability is eight months behind schedule, and the interim commission will not launch until the campaign to elect members of councils to oversee each of Chicago’s 22 police districts is underway.

Interim commissioners Yvette Loizon, Anthony Driver Jr., Oswaldo Gomez, Cliff Nellis, Remel Terry, Beth Brown and Isaac Troncoso have a “big responsibility,” to “lay the foundation for a successful commission,” Lightfoot said.

“What I’ve said to each of these commissioners is this: You are now being handed an important trust,” Lightfoot said. “You have the absolute ability to start your own process of restoring legitimacy to the police oversight system writ large in the city.”

Ald. Harry Osterman (48th Ward), who helped craft the commission, said Monday was a historic day that fulfills demands that the Chicago Police Department give Chicagoans a real say in how the department operates. Those demands reached a crescendo in the wake of the 2014 police murder of 16-year-old Laquan McDonald.

After the teen’s death, a Department of Justice investigation found that Chicago police officers routinely violated the constitutional rights of Black and Latino Chicagoans and were rarely held accountable for misconduct.

That probe led to a federal court order that requires the Chicago Police Department to implement reforms under the direction of a federal judge.

Every deadline set by the ordinance creating the commission — approved by the Chicago City Council on a 36-13 vote in July 2021 — was missed, enraging supporters who believe the commission is the city’s best chance to build trust in officers and police brass and put an end to repeated allegations of misconduct.

The interim commission was to start on Jan. 1, according to the ordinance. Shortly after that deadline passed, Lightfoot named police reform advocate Adam Gross to lead the commission.

Lightfoot said the delay was not caused by her lack of support for the commission, which will have the final say on policy for the Chicago Police Department.

For months, Lightfoot insisted that she have the ultimate power to implement policy for the department, telling reporters she “wears the jacket” for public safety in Chicago. That delayed the creation of the commission for 16 months until a compromise was reached to give the mayor a policy veto that could be overridden by a two-thirds vote of the Chicago City Council.

It took the City Council 10 months to take the first step toward creating the commission by recommending 14 Chicagoans to serve on the interim commission. It took Lightfoot an additional three months to conduct a “long and rigorous” interview process and pick seven members to serve on the commission until after the February election.

Lightfoot passed over former Ald. Patrick O’Connor (40th Ward), former Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s floor leader, who applied to serve on the interim commission.

Members of district councils elected in February will oversee each of Chicago’s 22 police districts and nominate seven people — to be confirmed by the mayor and Chicago City Council — to serve on the commission that will oversee the entire department and city.

Candidates for those councils can start collecting nominating signatures on Tuesday, and must file their petitions no later than Nov. 16.

District council members will be paid $500 per month. The president of the citywide commission would be paid $15,000 annually, with the other members earning $12,000.

Although Lightfoot promised during the 2019 mayoral campaign to create the oversight board during her first 100 days in office, Lightfoot soon broke with the police reform groups and City Council members working to craft the commission. 

The commission will have the power to hire the head of the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, known as COPA, which is the agency charged with probing police misconduct.

The commission will conduct a search for a new police superintendent when that position becomes vacant and fill empty spots on the Chicago Police Board, which disciplines officers.

In addition, the commission will have the power 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.

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

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