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Community Organization Reintroduces City Ordinance To Increase Police Accountability

8/7/2019, noon | Updated on 8/7/2019, noon
The Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability (GAPA) recently resubmitted its Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability Ordinance to Chicago’s ...
The Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability Ordinance was recently reintroduced to Chicago’s City Council by the Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability (GAPA) with Alderman Roderick Sawyer as a sponsor. Photo Credit: Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability

Community Organization Reintroduces City Ordinance To Increase Police Accountability

BY KATHERINE NEWMAN

The Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability (GAPA) recently resubmitted its Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability Ordinance to Chicago’s city council with Alderman Roderick Sawyer as a sponsor. The ordinance aims to create an elected community commission to hold the Chicago Police Department accountable for implementing policies that will rebuild trust between the community and the police.

“Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability came together in 2016 immediately after the Police Accountability Taskforce report was released which was commissioned by then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel after the release of the Laquan McDonald shooting video,” said Mecole Jordan, coordinator for GAPA.

Since 2016, GAPA has been working with the community to understand what needs to be done to rebuild relationships between residents and police and to push for the creation of a community commission for police accountability that would help guide police department policymaking and implementation.

“The goal is to have a body of people, selected through a process that yields the best potential trust and independence, who are able to provide not just back end accountability for the Chicago Police Department but are also able to focus on front end accountability first so we have less backend situations to hold police accountable for,” said Jordan.

If approved, the ordinance would create a nine-member civilian commission tasked with overseeing the Chicago Police Department, the Commission on Police Accountability (COPA), and the Police Board and district councils, according to information provided by GAPA.

The proposed commission would be involved in creating department policy, in the hiring and termination of the police superintendent, the firing and termination of the COPA chief administrator, and the appointment and removal of police board members, according to information provided by GAPA.

The nine members will be required to meet certain criteria that qualify them for the position and will be appointed through a public election.

“The commission is a nine-member commission and it’s written into the ordinance that all nine members have to meet specific criteria because we wanted to make sure they have the acumen and the experience to handle the heaviness of Chicago and the issues that we face here. Also, we want to make sure they are able to judge carefully from a community perspective how policies are actually rolling out of the Chicago Police Department and how they are impacting community residents,” said Mecole.

In December 2015, the City of Chicago created the Police Accountability Task Force which was led by Lori Lightfoot, who is now the Mayor of Chicago. The task force was asked to share its comprehensive findings and specific recommendations for reform within the Chicago Police Department.

Because Mayor Lightfoot was the Chair of the Police Accountability Task Force, Mecole said that they are overall very hopeful for the future of this ordinance.

“We have entrusted fully to the Chicago Police Department how community policing should happen, void of the voices of those who are being policed and that has to change,” said Mecole.