Voters will be making their picks for mayor and alderperson Tuesday, but they’ll also be choosing candidates for a brand new government office — local police district councils.
Each of Chicago’s 22 police districts will now have a three-person civilian oversight council made up of people from that community.
The change is part of a long-running effort by community advocates to assert more civilian influence over the Chicago Police Department.
Anthony Driver, president of the Community Commission on Public Safety and Accountability, reflected on the decades-long effort on the night before Election Day.
“I was just looking at a newspaper clipping from 1973, by a guy by the name of Bobby Rush,” Driver said. “Before he was an alderman, before he was a congressman, he was fighting for this very same thing. Here we are 50 years later and it’ll be inaugurated in May of this year.”
With voters consistently citing crime as their top concern, the ways in which the department is held accountable could change under these new community councils.
“The folks who are running for district councils are everyday, regular Chicagoans. They’re not career politicians. They’re folks who are concerned about public safety in their community,” says Driver. “We’ve tried everything else. I’m confident that if you empower the people to empower themselves that we will be successful.”