Community Safety / by Darryl Holliday

  1. We propose the creation of an entity compromised of community representatives that will have the power to oversee CPD, its BIA, the new CPIA and all other police oversight mechanisms. The particular powers of this Community Safety Oversight Board and the process for selecting its members should not be decided until the Mayor and City Council hold full and robust public hearings on the topic and fully vet the design and implementation of this critical body. Though we do not provide a specific design and implementation process for the Board, the Task Force makes the following general recommendations about powers and responsibilities:
    • Selecting the Chief Administrator of the new CPIA and conducting public hearings to make the selection.
    • Requesting that the Inspector General for Public Safety perform specific audits and analyses of the policies, procedures and practices of CPD, CPIA and the Police Board that the community does not believe are being adequately addressed, and issuing recommendations based on the findings, to which CPD or the relevant agency must respond.
    • Requesting that the Inspector General for Public Safety perform specific audits of CPIA and BIA investigations of serious cases of alleged police misconduct or the use of force to promote the quality and integrity of the investigations.
    • Directing CPD, CPIA and the Police Board, through requests to the Inspector General for Public Safety, to collect and share data to facilitate community oversight.
    • Analyzing all sustained findings and discipline recommended by CPIA, BIA or the Police Board to assess disciplinary trends, determine whether discipline is consistently applied and fair, and determine whether final disciplinary decisions are being executed.
    • Conducting public hearings on any and all matters related to the CPD and its oversight entities.
    • As representatives of the broader community, holding frequent public meetings.
  2. Selection Methodology for Community Safety Oversight Board:
    • In selecting Community Board members, it will be critical to establish a process that maximizes the Board’s independence, ensures transparency and provides accountability to the public. The Task Force considered five methods for selecting Board members. In sum, the Task Force considered elections, City Council or Mayoral appointments, a third-party application process and hybrid versions of these options:
    • City Council Appointment. This model would follow an extensive process of public application among a number of citizen constituent groups (noted below), hearing and selection, with the determination of eventual selection made by the Council, which could manage it through one or more of its standing committees (e.g., the Police and Fire Committee and the Human Relations Committee) or working through or in conjunction with a non-partisan external body with expertise in community relations and/or police accountability. One advantage of this model is that it would leave to the most locally elected political actors the determination of balance and inclusivity of representation across the broad array of constituent groups and interests directly impacted by policing and police accountability.
    • Inspector General (IG)/third-party body Appointment (the “good governance” actor model). This model would follow the same selection process as highlighted above but would leave the application process and ultimate selection to an entity somewhat removed from City government. This model could include a selection committee run by the inspector general’s office or the Better Government Association, with eventual ratification by the City Council. The model is attractive as it is removed from government, but that same attribute may also lead to a delegitimization of current bodies.
    • Election. A process by which each member of the Board is elected by district or neighborhood, arriving at a fully representative body. This model does not exist, has not been successfully implemented anywhere else in the country, and is disfavored because it brings with it a host of challenges, which include being susceptible to cooptation by pre-existing power structures, use by individuals looking for a political springboard and a potential lack of diversity. Additionally, the cost and political nature of this process lead us to be concerned about this approach.
    • Mayoral Appointment. This model would involve a public application process and eventual appointment by the Mayor. This method would accord with recent practices in such cities as Seattle and Cleveland, which have recently undergone Department of Justice investigations. However, in our current political climate, it is likely this process would be perceived as highly influenced by politics. Thus it is not recommended.
    • Hybrid Model. Some hybrid of the foregoing options.
    • As part of the selection process in the Mayoral, City Council or third-party selection processes, candidates will submit their applications to a specified office to ensure proper qualification. These applications will then be posted to the internet and nominated by a proscribed process (e.g., for every vacancy on the Board of the civilian oversight entity, the screening committee will interview candidates and recommend three people, who would participate in a series of public hearings to present their credentials and answer questions from the selection committee and the public). The Mayor/City Council/third-party would then select/vote for one of three nominated candidates for each position, or the selection committee would approve them.
  3. Selection for Community Safety Oversight Board Checklist:
    • Whether selected by the Mayor, the City Council, a third party or otherwise, the membership of the Board would include the following:
    • 9 to 11 members (an odd number) selected from across the City, representing various communities and a cross-cut of interests.
    • 2-year (or 4-year) terms that are staggered to ensure regular review of the membership. Individuals will have to apply to be reappointed and max out after two or three terms.
    • Diversity requirements stated expressly to require inclusion of representatives of each of the following communities: faith, LGTBQ, immigrant, previous complainants about police abuse, youth, civil rights advocates and neighborhood leaders. There will also be requirements for geographic diversity, as well as one representative each from the Mayor’s office and CPD (retired or active).
    • No payment for participation.
    • The members must be residents of Chicago, cannot be employees, officials or appointees of the City or its delegate agencies or affiliated non-for-profits, and cannot have run previously for public office.
    • Meetings and votes for the body will be public.
  4. A coalition of community groups has proposed the creation of a Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC) to establish direct community oversight over CPD. The proposal here strives to honor the principles established by CPAC. We recommend that, as soon as possible, the City Council hold public hearings with the goal of developing the specific details of the Board—based on direction of the community—and selection of the Board members within 90 days of the start of the hearings. Among the issues, these hearings should address:
    • The role and responsibilities of the Board.
    • The selection of those involved in the Board, including, but not limited to, the feasibility of electing representatives to fill certain roles.
    • The staff and resources that will be made available to the Board.
  5. Remaining Recommendations:
    • CPD should create a hotline for department members, whether civilian or sworn, to lodge complaints, and develop a third-party system for the processing and follow-up of all comments and complaints reported to the hotline.
    • BIA should be given the resources and staff it needs to conduct effective investigations, exercise more oversight over district investigations and increase the transparency of investigations.
    • CPD and IPRA/CPIA should finalize a discipline matrix and all oversight entities should be required to follow it when recommending or imposing discipline.
    • CPD should develop standards regarding when options may and may not be granted by the Superintendent.
    • Command Channel review should be eliminated entirely, and Superintendent review of BIA cases should also be limited to 90 days, like with IPRA.
    • The City and CPD should ensure that the arbitration process should be subject to oversight.
    • The City should conduct further analysis regarding the role of prosecuting attorneys in Police Board proceedings and whether they are sufficiently supported and best situated to prosecute cases of police misconduct before the Board.
    • The City must ensure that the disciplinary process be made fully transparent.