CITY HALL — The Emanuel administration said Thursday it was adopting more than two dozen of the reforms recently proposed by the Police Accountability Task Force — but disbanding the Independent Police Review Authority was not among them.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel released a statement saying that the task force had proposed at least 76 reforms, and about 25 "are now being implemented" or have been previously planned.
The reforms range from strengthening the Police Department's Bureau of Internal Affairs to improved training for cops and 911 call takers with the Office of Emergency Management and Communications. They also include previously planned initiatives, announced in the wake of the Laquan McDonald case, such as equipping cops with Tasers and bodycams.
"As a city, we cannot rest until we fully address the systemic issues facing the Chicago Police Department, and the steps announced today build on our road to reform,” Emanuel said. “Under the leadership of Supt. Eddie Johnson, the Police Department will implement these reforms immediately while we continue to work together to find additional ways to restore the fabric of trust in communities across Chicago." He added that Chicago will be better off "because we faced up to these challenges and confronted them head on."
"Trust is at the heart of good policing, safe communities and is the central challenge facing Chicago today," Johnson added. He called the reforms "a down payment on restoring that trust, and build on the important progress we've made in recent months." Johnson pledged that "working together with community leaders, parents, ministers, youth and others, we will continue to build on this progress in the months and years ahead."
Lori Lightfoot, who chaired the task force, said she was "encouraged" by the city's actions as a "first step in the process" but said more, ir not all, of the recommendations need to be put into place. The task force said the the total number of recommendations was actually more than 100.
"We also remain steadfast in our belief that the recommendations must be taken as a whole in order to impact real and lasting change," she said in a statement.
Yet Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) dismissed the reforms as matters "that have been agreed to already," saying, "A real investment toward reform would be to dismantle the Independent Police Review Authority for a credible citizen agency to investigate police shootings, use of force, domestic violence, bias and coercion."
Citing IPRA's record of finding that only two of 409 police shootings since 2007 constituted "misconduct," Hairston said, "The agency has no credibility."
The administration said it was presenting its reforms to the U.S. Justice Department as it continues an overall probe of the Department stemming from the November release of the Laquan McDonald video.
New training proposals include additional Crisis Intervention Training, largely meant to address the treatment of the mentally ill, new 911 training and training on bias and racial differences intended to halt what the task force called the Department's culture of racism and "code of silence."
The Department will also bolster community policing through what's being called "community bridge meetings," and the Department of Public Health will join in educating the community on the treatment of the mentally ill as well.
The Department is also moving on an "early intervention system," intended to identify and retrain potential problem officers, and several other reforms addressing misconduct, including new discipline guidelines and a "misconduct hotline."
The administration and aldermen are still working on a new policy on the release of police video.
Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30th), chairman of the Public Safety Committee, cheered the reforms as "steps in the right direction," adding, "We have more work to do in order to rebuild public trust and restore accountability in the Police Department. In the weeks and months ahead, we'll be working with leaders across the city and the City Council to continue to address these important issues."
Yet the Emanuel administration pulled up short of disbanding IPRA. Instead, the Police Review Authority will adopt its own reforms including independent auditing and community outreach.
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: