CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - A Chicago City Council committee took some heat Wednesday as it started looking at how to hold police officers more accountable for misconduct.
“Hearings were scheduled in a great hurry with very short period of time, with little notice to the community,” said Paul Strauss of Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights.
Civil rights attorney Paul Strauss, backed by numerous community groups, complains that two downtown hearings on how to replace the Independent Review Police Authority fall far short of what's needed.
“A very small group of people will be able to participate, the way they have it set up,” said Mike Elliott of Chicago Alliance Against Racism and Political Oppression.
It was the Laquan McDonald shooting, and subsequent fallout, which prompted Mayor Emanuel to dump IPRA. The agency was accused of dragging its feet and giving a pass to too many cops.
Hearings Wednesday and Thursday were supposed to provide public input for a new system, but critics say the hearings were almost a well-kept secret.
“Why have you not insured that people who live in violence plagued neighborhoods have a seat at this table to tell you their stories, which absolutely must be respected,” said Cheri Runner, President of the Chicago Urban League.
Mayor Emanuel wants to replace IPRA with a watchdog that will have more resources, and independence. But the details of his plan have not been released.
The mayor was planning to submit his proposed ordinance later this month, but the new demands for more public input may lead to a delay.
A spokesman for the mayor told FOX 32,"... there will be additional opportunities for public engagement, reflecting the importance of public input throughout the process." Some of that input will include demands for an elected watchdog, not one appointed by the mayor.
“It’s been a total failure for decades now, so we want community control of the police through an elected civilian police accountability council,” Elliott said.
The next hearing is at 10 a.m. Thursday at City Hall.
After Wednesday’s hearing, committee chairmen pledged that Thursday’s hearing would not be the last.