With polls showing Chicago residents don’t trust their leader, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Friday he’s shaking up the way the police department is evaluated.
The announcement a month after a city task force issued a series of recommendations on how to mend relations with the community that have been dashed by a series of scandalous police tactics. Amid a nationwide debate over excessive use of force against black Americans, many cities have had to address the issue.
“In the coming weeks, we will have the final details worked out on a comprehensive plan to fundamentally reshape our system of police accountability,” Emanuel wrote in an op-ed piece Friday in the Chicago Sun-Times. “We want to make sure the police accountability system is trusted by the members of the Chicago Police Department and the residents of Chicago.”
The measures, which will be presented to the City Council on June 22, include scrapping the governmental Independent Police Review Authority and replacing it with a civilian-run police investigative agency, creating a public safety inspector general to oversee Chicago police activities and establishing a Community Safety Oversight Board composed of Chicago residents that would oversee the accountability process.
Emanuel’s approval rating crashed in the wake of how he handled the October 2014 shooting of Laquan McDonald, a 17-year-old black youth who was fatally shot 16 times for brandishing a 3-inch knife. It took a local judge to order the city to release the damming dash-cam video of the incident — after Emanuel got safely re-elected — which led to mass protests in November and exacerbated a perception that the mayor was enabling the use of excessive force.
The protests also came a month after a report from the Guardian that the CPD kept an unofficial interrogation center in an unmarked warehouse in which thousands of suspects, mostly blacks, were held for questioning without access to attorneys.
A December 2015 fatal police shooting of two suspects, including a woman who was killed by mistake, led to more protests and calls for the mayor to resign. The U.S. Justice Department initiated an investigation of the police department late last year.