Emanuel announces new task force to review police accountability

CHICAGO (AP) - Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office says he will create a Task Force on Police Accountability.

Emanuel held a news conference Tuesday morning to announce the new effort. His office says the task force will review the Chicago Police Department's current systems for accountability, oversight and training.

“The shooting of Laquan McDonald requires more than just words,” Mayor Emanuel said. “It requires that we act; that we take more concrete steps to prevent such abuses in the future, secure the safety and the rights of all Chicagoans, and build stronger bonds of trust between our police and the communities they’re sworn to serve.”

The panel will include victims' rights representatives, law enforcement organizations, young people and elected leaders.

The task force will be co-chaired by five respected leaders in criminal justice:

  • Sergio Acosta is a partner at Hinshaw & Culbertson and a former federal prosecutor
  • Joe Ferguson is Inspector General of the City of Chicago and a former federal prosecutor
  • Hiram Grau is the former Director of the Illinois State Police and former Deputy Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department
  • Lori Lightfoot is president of the Chicago Police Board, a partner at Mayer Brown and a former federal prosecutor
  • Randolph Stone is a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, director of the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Project Clinic, and a former Cook County Public Defender

Former Massachusetts Governor and Chicago native Deval Patrick will serve as a senior advisor to the task force. Patrick also served as U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division under President Bill Clinton.

The task force is charged with:

  • Improving independent oversight of police misconduct. In response to prior complaints concerning the investigation of police-involved shootings and other claims of serious police misconduct, the City Council created a new, independent, civilian-led agency in 2006 to conduct such investigations – the Independent Police Review Authority.  The task force will examine if there are additional changes that should now be made to improve the quality, independence or timeliness of IPRA's investigations of police-involved shootings and excessive force.
  • Examining the best ways to ensure officers with repeated complaints are identified and evaluated appropriately. The CPD has previously adopted programs to identify and intervene with respect to officers who have been the subject of repeated complaints of excessive force or other misconduct.  The task force will review what the CPD or IPRA can and should do to identify officers with problematic conduct, including racial bias, and what can be done to effectively intervene to change that conduct.
  • Recommending best practices for release of videos of police-involved incidents. The City (including both CPD and IPRA) has a longstanding policy not to publicly release videos and other evidence relating to alleged police misconduct that is the subject of pending criminal and/or disciplinary investigations until such investigations are concluded so as not to jeopardize those investigations. The task force will consider if the City should change this policy, and if so, when and under what circumstances should such evidence be released to the public.

The panel's recommendations will be presented to Emanuel and the Chicago City Council by March 31.

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