DOWNTOWN — Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he planned to name a new leader for the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, acknowledging that chief administrator Sharon Fairley planned to resign and run for Illinois attorney general.
Fairley, who launched the new agency 11 days ago to replace the beleaguered Independent Police Review Authority, did a "tremendous job" and put police accountability in a much "stronger position" than it was 18 months ago, Emanuel said at an unrelated event.
Emanuel said he would name an interim director to lead the agency once Fairley formally resigns to launch her bid to succeed Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who said Sept. 15 she would not run for another term.
Continuing that progress is "not dependent on one individual," Emanuel said.
Emanuel said he would continue to work to craft a civilian oversight board to keep tabs on COPA's operations.
The new agency was created by aldermen reeling from furor that enveloped the city after the release of a dashcam video showing a police officer fatally shoot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times. It will start the clock ticking on the latest effort to hold Chicago police accountable for misconduct and close the book on IPRA.
COPA will have nearly twice the budget and nearly 40 more investigators than IPRA, which was criticized by the U.S. Justice Department for doing a poor job of investigating police misconduct and holding accountable officers who had been found to have committed wrongdoing.
The day before COPA launched, Fairley said she looked forward to working with Madigan to craft a court-ordered agreement to reform the Police Department based on the Justice Department's findings. Madigan shocked the Illinois political world by announcing her plan not to run.
That means if elected, Fairley would be in charge of the effort to craft a consent decree — since the Trump administration has washed its hands of reform push.
The new agency has about 20 vacant positions for investigators, Fairley said before the launch.
Hyde Park State Sen. Kwame Raoul and State Rep. Scott Drury of Highland Park have already announced they plan to run for attorney general. The winner of the Democratic primary will likely face attorney Erika Harold, a former Miss America and a Harvard Law School grad.