CITY HALL — Mayor Rahm Emanuel committed to replacing the current police review board with a civilian agency Friday and scheduled a series of five public hearings citywide in August.
Emanuel laid out a set of Police Department reforms including not only a civilian investigative agency, but also a separate public-safety auditor and a Community Safety Oversight Board. The intention, he said, was to have a complete package of reforms ready for the next City Council meeting in September.
"Everyone in Chicago deserves a police accountability system that is both trusted and effective, and we are taking the next steps to achieve that goal,” Emanuel said in a statement. “Following conversations with residents, neighborhood organizations and others, we are taking action that reflects the voices and interests of the community. While important work remains, we will all be better off in the years to come because of the hard work and the community process being followed to rebuild and restore that system."
After initially waffling on whether IPRA needed to be replaced when his appointed Police Accountability Task Force suggested it, Emanuel came out in support of a civilian police oversight agency in May, and he left no doubt about that direction on Friday.
A news release put out by the Emanuel administration called it "essential for the city to take action now on replacing IPRA and implementing a new public-safety auditor." It went on to emphasize that "given the critical importance of these functions, and the urgency of the issue, it is imperative that the city advance these two measures."
The administration said, "It will give residents, the public and our public-safety agencies the certainty they deserve, while recognizing the equally important need of addressing the voices of community members."
Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30th), chairman of the Public Safety Committee, said the community had been heard, in the need for civilian oversight of the police, and it would continue to be heard in working out the fine details of reform.
"We are making important strides to ensure that the input and opinion of Chicago’s residents are heard,” he said. “The City of Chicago needs and deserves a police accountability system that works, and City Council is taking concrete steps to ensure that system is in place."
Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd) agreed, calling it "a critical moment in our city’s history."
“Our city’s residents need to be able to share their experiences and input on this important issue," he added. "I support this path forward, and will continue working with my colleagues in the Progressive Reform Caucus to make reform a reality."
Along with Ald. Carrie Austin (34th), chairman of the Budget Committee, they set a series of five public hearings:
• Aug. 4 at South Shore Cultural Center, with hosts Aldermen Leslie Hairston (5th) and Willie Cochran (20th).
• Aug. 9 at Senn High School, with hosts Aldermen Harry Osterman (48th) and Joe Moore (49th).
• Aug. 11 at Little Village Lawndale High School, with hosts Aldermen Munoz and George Cardenas (12th).
• Aug. 16 at Westinghouse College Prep, with hosts Aldermen Emma Mitts (37th) and Jason Ervin (28th).
• Aug. 22 at North Grand High School, with hosts Aldermen Reboyras and John Arena (45th).
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