Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel unveiled his plan to disband the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) and replace the group with a civilian agency “that has more independence and more resources to do its work.”
Formed in 2007, the IPRA was created to serve as the city’s police review agency in response to negative allegations of police misconduct investigation. The IPRA reviews complaints made against police officers as well as officer-related shootings. However, it quickly garnered criticism. IPRA has been known for their lack of action, with only two percent of all claims filed against Chicago officers resulting in discipline, leaving most incidents without resolution.
The city will hold a council meeting on June 22, at which time Emanuel will reveal his idea in greater detail. He provided some preliminary information about it in an op-ed published in the Chicago Sun-Times, describing the new policy as “a comprehensive plan to fundamentally reshape our system of police accountability.” The plan will further its action by including a new public safety inspector general, in charge of auditing and monitoring law enforcement in the city, with hopes to identify “emerging problems and trends in order to prevent acts of abuse from occurring in the first place.” Plans also include the formation of a Community Safety Oversight Board, which will give Chicago residents a voice in how their relationship with law enforcement is shaped and monitored.
This new direction comes a month after PATF recommended restructuring the method of misconduct investigation, citing a report that dubbed Chicago police force as having “no regard for the sanctity of life when it comes to people of color,” and alienating minorities by use of excessive force and honoring a secret code of silence. The task has high hopes that the civilian-run agency will be “new fully transparent and accountable.”
What will be most important is ensuring that the new police review program operates differently than the IPRA, according to Lori Lightfoot, who is head of the Chicago Police Board and served as chair of the mayor’s Police Accountability Task Force (PATF).
“The devil will be in the details,” Lightfoot said. “How it will be different (from IPRA) is a fundamentally important question.”
The IPRA received more attention last summer after one of the investigators alleged he was fired for refusing to change reports where he concluded that certain police shootings were unjustified.
Nearly six months after the release of the dashcam footage showing ex-officer Jason Van Dyke shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel continues to receive criticism over delaying the release process of the video. In an incident that took place in October 2014, it took Chicago authorities over 13 months to expose the footage to the public.
In response to the protests from an outraged general public, the mayor formed the PATF, an agency which aims to “lay the foundation for the rejuvenation of trust between the police and the communities that they serve by facing hard truths and creating a roadmap for real and lasting transparency, respectful engagement, accountability and change.”
Meanwhile, the Chicago police department is currently under a U.S. Department of Justice investigation to conclude whether the second largest police force in the U.S. has continuously violated residents’ rights.