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New Police Oversight Agency To Launch Sept. 15, Officials Say

By Heather Cherone | April 13, 2017 12:13pm | Updated on April 14, 2017 10:21am
 IPRA Chief Administrator Sharon Fairley will oversee the establishment of the new Civilian Office of Police Accountability.
IPRA Chief Administrator Sharon Fairley will oversee the establishment of the new Civilian Office of Police Accountability.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

CITY HALL — The city's new police oversight agency — designed to investigate allegations of excessive force and misconduct by police officers more thoroughly and faster — will launch Sept. 15 — approximately two weeks before the deadline set by the City Council, officials said.

The Independent Police Review Authority will be replaced by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability as part of the city's effort to reform the way officers are investigated for misconduct prompted by the release of a dashcam video showing a police officer fatally shoot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times.

Sharon Fairley, who is leading the effort to disband the police review authority, said in a statement that the new agency will offer Chicagoans "a best-in-class civilian police oversight agency that Chicago deserves.”

A draft of the rules that will govern how the agency operates was posted on the agency's website — chicagocopa.org — and members of the public will have until May 29 to offer feedback on the policies, officials said.

The new agency will conduct as much of its business in public as possible, Fairley said.

“Public engagement around how we operate is important in building trust from our stakeholders which is essential to the future success of the agency. We remain committed to being open and transparent about how the agency is being built and how it will operate on an ongoing basis,” Fairley said.

An agency training academy will offer its employees instruction on a wide range of issues, including implicit bias, procedural justice as well as investigative strategies and tactics, officials said.

An eight-member group made up of community members will serve as a way for the agency to gather feedback from the community and for Chicagoans to weigh in on the organization's activities and decisions.

Those members are:

• Dr. Byron T. Brazier of the Apostolic Church of God

• Social justice activist William Calloway

Emmett Farmer, whose son was killed by a Chicago Police officer

• Dean Creasie Finney Hairston of the University of Illinois Chicago, School of Social Work

• The Rev. Dr. Johnny Miller ofMt. Vernon Baptist Church

• Maria del Socorro Pesqueira of Mujeres Latina en Accion

• Civil rights attorney Steve Saltzman

• Former Chicago Police officer Richard Wooten.

The new agency will have 75 investigators, with 15 assigned to major cases where someone is killed or seriously injured by an officer, officials said. There are 40 investigators under the Independent Police Review Authority.

A U.S. Justice Department investigation found police routinely violated the civil rights of residents by using excessive force caused by poor training and nonexistent supervision.


Federal officials also concluded that the police review agency did a poor job of investigating police misconduct and holding accountable officers who had been found to have committed wrongdoing.