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Police Reforms To Be Discussed By Aldermen Wednesday

By Ted Cox | August 16, 2016 5:17pm
 Ald. Ricardo Munoz heads a subcommittee on police reform Wednesday.
Ald. Ricardo Munoz heads a subcommittee on police reform Wednesday.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

CITY HALL — A leading progressive heads a new City Council Police Accountability Subcommittee Wednesday as aldermen debate reforms to the Police Department.

"These hearings will allow aldermen to hear from key voices about best practices and pitfalls to avoid from Chicago’s history and from other cities,” said Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd). "We want to enter the legislative process on police reform from a well-informed place, so that we can pass the effective, comprehensive legislation that our communities urgently need."

The subcommittee grows out of an unproductive pair of joint committee meetings between the Public Safety Committee and the Budget Committee, which critics denounced as "a farce."

As a result, that joint committee has held a series of public meetings across the city this month in a bid to get community feedback. Munoz, meanwhile, a leading member of the Progressive Reform Caucus, has been made chairman of a Police Accountability Subcommittee, charged with soliciting expert testimony on police practices and reforms in other major cities.

The subcommittee is expected to concentrate on the logistics of reform proposals, but it comes at a time of turbulence in the Police Department, with two high-ranking members of the police brass leaving their positions.

First Deputy Supt. John Escalante announced Tuesday he'd be leaving his post to accept at position at Northeastern Illinois University. That came after Deputy Chief David McNaughton announced his retirement, reportedly in response to a highly critical report being prepared by Inspector General Joe Ferguson on the Laquan McDonald case, which of course prompted the calls for Department reforms beginning late last year.

Ferguson's document, which has not yet been released to the public, reportedly implicates as many as 10 officers in filing false reports in the aftermath of the McDonald shooting, including McNaughton.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has saddled Supt. Eddie Johnson with the task of making decisions on replacing those officers.

Munoz has also pushed in the past for hiring more police officers, while the Emanuel administration has insisted overtime is more efficient, so that ongoing debate could resurface in the subcommittee as well.

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