Activists Seek More Public Input In Police Oversight Plan

CHICAGO (CBS) — A group of religious leaders stood outside Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office on Thursday, demanding changes and more citizen involvement in plans to replace the Independent Police Review Authority, but some aldermen were preaching patience on the effort to create a new police watchdog agency.

Members of the Community Renewal Society said the mayor’s proposals for a new agency to review police-involved shootings and investigate allegations of police misconduct come up short in terms of independence, transparency, and accountability.

Fr. Larry Dowling, pastor of St. Agatha Catholic Church in the North Lawndale neighborhood, said he’s pleased to hear Emanuel is not insisting on a quick vote after he introduces his proposed ordinance later this month, but he said that’s not enough.

“We are asking the mayor, we’re asking the aldermen to pass legislation that will truly bring accountability, independence, a budget, and true accountability into the police oversight group in our city,” he said.

WBBM 780’s Craig Dellimore

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The clergy said the mayor has not agreed with most of their proposals, but they are hoping aldermen will be more supportive.

Many aldermen balked at the mayor’s original plan to call for a City Council vote on his plan one day after a public hearing on Sept. 13, and Emanuel has since said he’s willing to give aldermen more time.

Some aldermen said this week the mayor’s plan needs a lot more work and scrutiny, pointing out the proposals given to them so far have not laid out a budget for the agency, and do not have any provision for community oversight of the new police review board.

Emanuel has said those details can be worked out later, and said he won’t negotiate the plan in public.

Some aldermen have said the fact the mayor has not finalized those plans yet is a good sign that he’s allowing for more input from the City Council and the public.

“I think that’s a great example of an ordinance in progress, and marks a different tone from what we’ve seen in the past; where things have just been handed down to the community and said ‘This is how you’re going to participate, and you’ll take it from there,’” Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) said.

Ald. Patrick Thompson (11th) agreed the council shouldn’t rush in its effort to replace the Independent Police Review Authority.

“I understand that; why we would want to get this seated right away and move forward, but at the same time, IPRA is doing the job, and they can continue, and I don’t think we need to rush. We have to get this right,” he said.

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