Alderman Ricardo Munoz
So this August the city council will hold five police accountability meetings across the city and want gather and review two critical points on police accountability. Number one, the new investigative agency to replace IPRA. Number two, the new public safety inspector general. The goal is to develop a new agency and see out a new public inspector general before the budget process in October. After process are established, community organizations will bring together residents to further engage in police reform issues including the design a community safety oversight board. Once the communities have met with the city, the city will move to create an oversight board.
Thank you for coming out and contributing to this collaborative process. If you wish to speak today, please fill out a pink city council slip and turn it in to the table in the back. You'll have three minutes. We'll be keeping time here and let you know when you have 30 seconds left. And when time is up so people can stay on time. The handout has questions related to the new IPRA and the new public safety inspector general. We hope you address these issues during your speaking time. If you would not like to speak, please see the URL on the handout.
Even though we are not at city hall, it is nonetheless a city council hearing. As in all hearings, a panel of aldermen will not answer questions and comments. We are hear to listen to the nature of police reforms in Chicago. With that, I'll turn it over to Lori Lightfoot who will speak on her experience with the public safety task force before we begin public comment. Lori.
Thank you aldermen for providing me with this opportunity, and thank you for hosting these series of events across the city and providing the public the opportunity to receive information and to be heard on these important issues. Let me begin, my name is Lori Lightfoot. I had the pleasure and honor earlier this year to serve as the chair of the Police Accountability Task Force. I am not going to talk about all the work the task force did, but I want to give you a few data points specifically on the two issues that are on the table, the replacement entity for IPRA and also for a brand new entity the public safety IG.
As you may know the task force was convened after the release of the Laquan McDonald shooting video in late November last year. Over five months time, we brought in members from across the city in five specific areas. In the course of our work we made a specific effort to engage the community as much as we could. There were many of you who came to task force public hearings that we also had and provided invaluable feedback. Through the course of our work we met with over a thousand organizations and individuals. We had approximately 70 working group members and 750 people who attended hearings. We met with 95 community groups and had over 100 interviews and 83 religious institutions. As a result of that as you are all aware on April 15th we issued a comprehensive report and issued findings with recommendations. Two of the hundred recommendations that we made are to be discussed by the city council tonight, that is a replacement for IPRA and a public safety ig. it was clear from the comments that we heard from the members of the public and members who had filed complaints and lawyers who had worked with clients who were working with clients, it was clear that IPRA fundamentally lost credibility. That is why we made a recommendation that a new agency be put in place.
We also made the recommendation that we simply not change the name of IPRA. That was what happened with OPS when it was phased out but we had to make specific systemic changes to the organization so that you all believe in that the new organization was independent, had resources needed for investigations and add to legitimacy and accountability to the overall law enforcement infrastructure.
Let me talk to you about some of the recommendations we made to the organization. Now if you looked at our report, there is a checklist of the key points that we thought were important for the new organization. One is the selection process of the new head of the organization. Our recommendations were part of a whole. You can't simply cherry pick parts of the recommendation. I personally support a process for creating a new agency now and a public ig, it is critical that the new organization be included in the new upcoming budget. The time is now.
What is also important is that the work of IPRA, meaning the complaints that are coming in, that doesn't stop. That means on a daily basis, you all members of the public. Complaints from the public, and frankly complaints generated within the department. It's not going to get accomplished if you all don't see the organization as having credibility and it's important that a new organization gets started as quickly as possible.
We have to think about who chooses the new leader of the organization. What will be the transition between what we have now and the new organization. We have got to make sure that the new organization has a dedicated budget. So it's either as a percent of the police department's budget or whether it's the number of personnel at the new organization versus the number of personnel in the police department. It has to have more funding, better trained staff. It has to have a budget that is guaranteed. So the new organization doesn't succumb to the vagaries of city finance.
The new organization has to clearly articulate what its mission is and it needs to do a consistent and better job to reach out to communities.
There needs to be a removal of barriers of accountability. There needs to be a change that requires someone to fill out an affidavit and subjects themselves to potential perjury, investigation or some kind of punitive action simply because they don't want to sign that affidavit.
If there is credible evidence that misconduct has taken place, the new organization has to be empowered to investigate that. There has been power to do that in IPRA, but they haven't exercised it historically up to this point. That affidavit requirement, which frankly would require a change in the collective bargaining agreement has to be done so that the new organization can investigate complaints whether or not there is an affidavit to go along with it.
The new organization has to do a better job of being transparent. One of the things we heard during the hearings was that people file a complaint and they wouldn't hear anything for years. A complaint that gets filed, it has to be something that the complaining party knows about and it shouldn't be a secret process that an investigation is taking forward. Frankly when an outcome has been determined, the complaining party should be notified. It sounds like a simple thing, but we heard from a lot of people that they wouldn't hear about anything about the complaint and instead would receive a form letter years later and it wouldn't be accurate.
One of the other things we talked about was mediation. IPRA currently engages in a mediation process to resolve complaints where officers come in, they get some factual statement of what misconduct they engaged in and the case is resolved. In those circumstances, the complaining witness is excluded from this process. We looked at practices across the country, and those who use mediation has brought in the complaining witness from the very beginning and that person is a part of the mediation process.
Another thing is if there is a complaint against an officer and it is referred to the criminal authorities, IPRA's standard practice was to stand down and were not obligated to complete investigations while the criminal case is winding its way through the process. If at the end of the day a prosecutor decided not to bring charges or the case lingered in criminal courts for many years, the disciplinary process came to a screeching halt. The victim did not get any justice.
We recommend that unless there is extraordinary circumstances, the disciplinary process must proceed if there is a criminal case. I can tell you as a lawyer that's complicated. There's issues of officer statements and appellant testimony, but those are things that can be worked out. It can't be that the standard protocol is that if there is a criminal case pending or even if there is a criminal referral that the disciplinary case stands down indefinitely.
I think Sharon Fairley understands that and has worked aggressively over the last eight months as the head of the organization to address that, but that needs to be written into the ordinance itself.
One of the other things that we believe was important, and I'll make this my last comment, there has to be a better job of investigating these cases much more quickly. We at the police board we see a case that's from 2006. It didn't come to the police board till 2010 and was not resolved till 2011. The officers appealed and went to circuit court and the circuit court reversed the police board's decision. It then went to appeals where it sat for three years, and now we have just gotten a decision this past Monday. That is a ridiculously long period of time, everyone would agree, but still at the front end you'd have tow wonder what the police board cases are getting cases that are five, six years old. What has to happen is that investigations must be done much more quickly. It's hard to put a time limit on when an investigation needs to get done, because every case is different, the facts are different, but even with the vagaries of the facts and these cases, investigations need to get done more quickly so that victims of police can find a timely resolution. So the officers don’t have things hanging over their heads for years and years. It's in the best interest for the public.
Now on the public safety IG. As it stands today there is no entity, not the police board, not IPRA, not the bureau of internal affairs and not the attorney general who has a complete 360 degree view of police accountability in the city of Chicago. It was very clear that that gap needed to be filled. The basic concept is to have one someone with broad authority to look at the entities responsible for conducting investigations of police misconduct. It will also make sure that in terms of what is going on in each investigation that information is available to the public, so that the public can see what's happening. Another important is to identify patterns whether It's an officer, or a unit in the police department that needs to be fixed.
We've also heard through the newspapers the number of settlements made each year regarding alleged police misconduct. Millions of dollars are spent in judgements each year. We believe, the city council, that the public needs more information about those cases before city council approves those settlements. We believe that the public safety IG reviews those cases and puts out a report to city council before decisions about settlement cases are made. The IG needs to do an analysis of what's happening. If Officer Lightfoot keeps coming up case after case after case, and the city is paying out money because of my misconduct, something needs to be done about that. But nothing can be done if that information isn't available to the people who can do something about it. That information is critically important for the public to have access to. Private tax dollars are being spent. I'll stop there.
Ms. Lightfoot mentioned leaders, I thought I'd mention my position that in the last ten or fifteen years there's been five or ten leaders of IPRA if you count the temporary ones and some of the temporary ones have been in as long as the permanent one. The average leader of IPRA doesn't stay too long. That's my position on that.
She also mentioned affidavits. I think so many people drop their complaints against police officers it's because of the affidavit. When you go to the IPRA intake, what they do is that they have to take down your explanation of your complaint and put in into a couple hundred characters.
The investigator then comes to your door is not an investigator but a police officer, and I've made dozens, dozens of complaints, it's a police officer acting for IPRA, not even an investigator that comes. He tells you that you have to sign this affidavit or the case will be closed. You say that'll be fine but it's under penalty of perjury. You don't know what the IPRA intake specialsit wrote down about your complaint, and you have to sign a blank piece of paper that says it's accurate or else you're going to jail because she didn't summarize it correctly.
I want to speak to the actual solution. The solution is that you need to have your initial complaint made to internal affairs. They need to have to be the ones to review the complaint and now you have a CRID number. If you file a complaint with IPRA and they mess up your complaint, you'll have to file a complaint against IPRA themselves. Internal affairs are tasked to review and document complaints. If you take IPRA out of the loop, you resolve the problem that we have now.
People are killed by police often because not because they weren't killed by taser or because they didn't collect enough data. That's not the reason. The reason is that they can get away with it and can continue to do it. That's why we have so many killings. They don't have to think twice about it.
Why is that? There are elevan individuals who make decisions about police conduct, police investigations and police discipline. There are eleven people and let me tell you who they are. You've got the superintendent, you have one your chief of IPRA who does the investigatio and nine police board members.
Standard operating procedure, budget, those eleven individuals. Where did those people come from? All eleven of these individuals were appointed by your mayor. All of them. all of them have to think twice before they make a decision and think, how does this make my boss look? How will this affect my future in this city and my job? Before they're making a decision they're not thinking about justice or right and wrong, but how the mayor will look. Why do we know this is going on? Because there were four hundred days before we even know Laquan McDonald was shot by police. Huh? They seemed surprised. They mayor, state's attorney and the superintendent suppressed that until, the mayor, one by one, threw each of them under the bus.
We don't have power to affect those decision making process. The only way we can gain power for that is through CPAC. People have to answer to the community, you or I.
I'd like to know how many more of our children are going to be murdered by Chicago police? And when did it become okay for police to shoot people in the back? Why are they more often people of color who are being murdered by police? Where is money coming from? The money that is being paid to families who lost their murdered sons and daughters. The city is using taxpayer money to hire lawyers to defend police. Does it make the citizens of Chicago accomplices? Do we need to change police contracts? I believe we do. We must stop the police killings. We need CPAC now.
Byron Sigcho, Director of Pilsen Alliance
I want to paraphrase Ms. Lightfoot, and she's right. I think it is very important that we testify who we think as the residents of Chicago how to select new members of the police board. I certainly believe in a community controlled board. We need to take away that power from the mayor. The fact that the mayor won his reelection bid because of a 5 million dollar settlement should tell us this is a tainted process.
So let me remind you what mayor control looks like over the past 15 years. 702 killings. It's not just affecting black families. The mayor has failed us, our schools. What we want to tell this panel is to listen to your constituents. We demand a community controlled board. We demand CPAC.
In the thousands of cases we've seen of police misconduct. Only 4 percent have received discipline. The racial disparity shows that black and Latino victims are less likely to get justice. This is outrageous when we see the complaints of these communities basically dismissed. In the 200 cases that have been reported have been voted for dismissed were recommended for the lesser charger than the serious misconduct charge they were accused of.
Thank you. I've lived in the Pilsen Little Village community for twenty years, and one thing I do agree with the task force, the mayor's task force, is that the policing system in this city has been racist, is racist. WE need to take a brief look at the demographics and those who have been murdered and tortured are not white folk. In the honor of the communities I've had the privilege to work for and live for, one thing we do know that there is no democratic process. There is hearing, but no listening. It's not about listening it's about power. There is a concrete democratic solution. It is 020165707 ordinance for CPAC. CPAC takes apart the system of impunity of this city. It takes away the police board, IPRA and internal affairs. The police board is the most powerful entity around. They have the power to hire and fire police officers. What CPAC does is that it creates a community council from residents across all districts and this council democratically elected have the power to investigate and hire and fire cops. This is a serious systemic shift of power to the people.
I'm going to echo what everyone just said. I would like to have a committee that works on the accessibility of this topic for Spanish speakers. Spanish speaking accessibility is needed for this topic as well as other topics. The police accountability task force is not in Spanish. How are we expected the Spanish speaking residents to be here and come here tonight if the demographic doesn't even know the content? That's a huge fact. The City of Chicago website is powered by Google Translate and the translations are horrible. What I hope is that the city council consider, and what Byron has already mentioned, is that there is an allocation of resources, so that there are actual people who translate materials. Otherwise the City of Chicago will continue to leave Spanish speakers out in the dark.
Parker: We got CPAC in Spanish.
First, I want to say is thank you to Lori Lightfoot. I went to the first police accountability hearing. I want you to know that I hear you and I see you and even though I disagree with you I respect you.
I attended the South Shore meeting, and I specifically requested that the alderman release a report or summary to prove that they are actually hearing and listening to what we are saying. I sit in the back and I wasn't sure if they were taking notes or even paying attention.
Anyways, I would really like to see a summary that proves you are actually listening and considering what was being said today.
I also want to talk about the city council's cowardice. When Laquan was killed you could have done something but you didn't. You could have changed policing then. Change didn't happen until the people stepped up. I think it's really disgusting that you're pretending that you're listening and pull the wool over our eyes with these false ordinances, and it's clear the people have spoken and they want a civilian police accountability council. And the fact that we've been talking about this for years and you've been talking about a civilian oversight board. That's not the same thing ya'll.
It doesn't give us power. It doesn't pay people in the community to look at policing. It's not the same, and we will not accept anything less. If you want to change policing in the city, I urge you to abolish ordinance 04878 the Blue Lives Matter ordinance. You cannot charge protestors for talking against police crime. That's not fair for us and it's a disrespect for all of our work. Also this ordinance 4886 it's also been proposed by Burch. I really think it's a conflict of interest for an ex cop Alderman to be proposing these ordinances. If you want us to have faith in you you cannot be supporting things that go against our civil rights. I need for that to happen instead of this dog and pony show or whatever you want to call this.
I'm a North Lawndalian all my life. In 2012 I retired from the Cook County Sheriff's department. I will never pretend that my work load was the same as that of a Chicago Police officer. As a patrolman I talked to community about quality of life issues and engagement. There are some things common to the department despite size or scope. As a field training officer, I passed down what my training officer told me. Whatever you do do something where you work with kids. Everyday you see kids in a negative light instead of as a teenage boy. The bridge program makes possible the social bonds between Chicago Police and children. Everyone sees each other as people, established through mutual respect. Critical changes need to be made. Social and community engagement needs to be mandated for personnel on a yearly basis. Perhaps the teenage boy will go to a cop in times of need instead of an evil occupier. Perhaps the cop won't see teenage black boys as evil monsters who kill at a moment's notice but instead as teenage boys.
The devastation comes from the black community, a weak community. If they want to stop police brutality, they must become a moral community. The leadership has failed. Black families have failed. Demonstrating isn't the answer. The answer is you. Only the strong survive. Don't rely on the white people that brought you here. Only the strong survive and God is all that you need. Black lives matter, show them that black lives matter.
I am a resident and actually one of your constituents Alderman Cardenas. I am asking you two gentlemen that you need to support a civilian police accountability council. We've met and discussed this in the past, so I don't know why you're not supporting it now. We actually presented this to you Mr. Munoz and we're making sure our community knows the importance of CPAC.
I don't know why you're not on board, and it's a big question for me. You said you were gonna to support it but you didn't come through. Here I am asking you what happened. No response? You were suppose to sponsor this bill but you didn't do it so.
Alderman Munoz: We had some constitutional questions, and am talking to your leadership about. Until it is resolved, I can't support it just yet. I like the concept, but the details need to be worked out.
Barba: What details?
Alderman: Bottom line, bottom line there is a constitutional question whether or not police districts have a one man one vote jurisdiction. For example all elected districts must have equal weight. Police districts don't have that. I'm working with your leadership to figure that out.
Lucretia: It's just like school districts, like local school councils. It's the same sort of principles.
Alderman: No, no, they're not. This is a legal issue.
Barba: So why don't you just sign? Last time these types of meetings happened 54 schools got shut down. I don't know what this is. 54 schools got shut down.
Barba: You need to support this.
Alderman: If there aren't any other speakers then meeting is adjourned.
Lucretia: Why don't you stop and answer questions?
Alderman: Because this is a panel. This is a city council hearing.