“Changing the head of CPD (Chicago Police Department) is like trying to weed your garden by chopping off the tops. We need to go to the root or the weeds keep coming back. And the weed’s name is lack of public accountability!”
CRS Leader, Rev. Robert Biekman, Pastor of Maple Park United Methodist Church, spoke those words at a press conference this morning announcing the introduction of the FAIR COPS Ordinance to the Chicago City Council. Alderman Jason Ervin, joined CRS leaders as the ordinance’s chief sponsor. He was joined by Aldermen Muñoz and Waguespack.
The FAIR COPS Ordinance would create an independent police auditor function and a Deputy Inspector General of Police Oversight housed within the Inspector General’s office. The Deputy Inspector General, nominated by a citizen panel, would be entirely independent of the Mayor. FAIR COPS demands systemic reform and would create broad powers to investigate patterns of misconduct by abusive officers and the department as a whole. The Ordinance introduces a process for making and enforcing policy change, and calls for an immediate referral of abusive police officers for prosecution. Currently no Chicago agency, including the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), Internal Affairs, or Police Board, provides this kind of oversight. New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle and Denver all have similar police auditor offices and Cleveland's recent consent decree with the Justice Department creates similar requirements.
The FAIR COPS Ordinance was initially drafted by Community Renewal Society (CRS) to fundamentally overhaul the system of police accountability in Chicago. CRS has been calling for systemic reform to the policing system for over two years, and has met directly with Mayor Rahm Emanuel three times in 2015.
Today, the Mayor’s Police Accountability Task Force released its Recommendations for Reform, but we already know what reform looks like. It looks like FAIR COPS! The time to act is now!