Over the last year, there has been a concerted push for police reform in cities across the country. After two years of debate, Chicago has passed a civilian oversight board to hopefully hold police accountable for misconduct.
According to the Chicago Tribune, after years of debate and multiple compromises, the Chicago City Council voted 36-13 in favor of the new oversight board. This was a long-fought battle and there was no guarantee the proposal was going to go through. For starters, there were competing proposals by multiple grassroots organizations, each with different demands for what they wanted the board to be able to do. There was also pushback from multiple members of the City Council.
“We don’t need police reform; we need family reform. Families need to take ownership and start watching over their children,” Ald. Nick Sposato told the Tribune. “You’re going to win, we’re going to lose. The Police Department’s going to lose. The city’s going to lose.”
Imagine being this pressed over holding police accountable when they fuck up. People really take positions of power and instead of trying to fix shit they just become the “this is fine” meme.
It also wasn’t a sure bet that Mayor Lori Lightfoot was going to get behind the proposal, and it was only after several compromises that it ultimately gained the mayor’s approval. “This ordinance, should it pass, will not solve all problems. It will not make every challenge that we face on public safety and accountability go away,” Lightfoot told reporters. “There is much more work to be done.”
From the Chicago Tribune:
The ordinance establishes a citizen panel to oversee Chicago police — but not with all the powers asked for by the grassroots organizers. For one, the oversight board would only have the ability to pass a nonbinding no-confidence vote on the police superintendent. That concession was decided after activists dropped their demand for a commission that could fire the superintendent. That idea failed to gain sufficient aldermanic support.
Lightfoot also walked back her competing oversight proposal, giving the final body more authority to set Chicago police policies than she would have liked. But ultimately, the proposed ordinance retains the mayor’s ability to veto such decisions.
Despite some concessions by the mayor and activists, the head of the Chicago Police Department’s Fraternal Order of Police John Catanzara blasted the plan as “absolutely absurd and dangerous and reckless” and said it hands oversight to “the squeaky wheels who made this city into anarchy last summer.”
The commission has the ability to adopt new police policies and vote to remove the police superintendent, but the mayor has the ability to veto the policies and reject the recommendation to remove the superintendent. A veto from the mayor could only be rejected through a two-thirds vote by the City Council.