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Aldermen To Hold Hearings On How To Punish Bad Officers

By Ted Cox | July 5, 2016 4:34pm | Updated on July 6, 2016 10:54am
 Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30th), chairman of the Public Safety Committee, will lead two days of hearings on police accountability.
Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30th), chairman of the Public Safety Committee, will lead two days of hearings on police accountability.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

CITY HALL — A joint City Council committee began two days of testimony on the hot-button issue of police accountability Wednesday.

The Public Safety and Budget committees are holding a pair of "subject matter hearings" at 1 p.m. Wednesday and 10 a.m. Thursday to "receive input from members of the public, our colleagues and subject matter experts" to study proposals to "revamp Chicago's police accountability structure," according to a meeting notice.

Alderman have been calling for committee meetings on various police reforms since January, shortly after the Chicago Police Department was thrown into turmoil by the late November release of the Laquan McDonald video.

One of the proposals, sponsored by Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd), would call on the Police Department to preserve any and all documents on police misconduct at least until a federal Justice Department investigation into Chicago police practices is concluded. It was immediately signed by 34 aldermen, a majority of the Council.

Last week, in a luncheon address to the City Club, Dean Angelo Sr., president of the local Fraternal Order of Police union, said files simply alleging abuse on the part of an officer should be removed from the record after five years.

"When something's proved, it stays," Angelo said, as part of an officer's permanent record. He quickly added, "When it's alleged, it's got to go."

Angelo insisted that an officer should not be hounded throughout his or her career by unsubstantiated allegations.

The Independent Police Review Authority released information on more than 100 open police investigations a month ago, with the authority's chief administrator, Sharon Fairley, saying the agency was adopting a policy to release any available video on cases of alleged police misconduct within 60 to 90 days of the incident.

The Council recently called on IPRA to play a role in approving legal settlements in cases of police misconduct. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, however, has suggested replacing IPRA with a civilian board.

An Emanuel-appointed Police Accountability Task Force recommended several police reforms in an April report, including disbanding IPRA. It also said the Police Department must confront its "racist history" and the "code of silence" that too often finds officers protecting each other no matter the factual details of a given incident.

Those topics and others figure to embroil aldermen and Police Department representatives at hearings this week.

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