CHICAGO (CBS) – Mayor Lori Lightfoot has appointed Adam Gross, a long-time advocate for police reform, as the first executive director of a newly established civilian council tasked with overseeing the Chicago Police Department.
Gross, a lawyer and public safety policy expert who helped a coalition of grassroots groups negotiate with the Lightfoot administration to create the new Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability, will help lead the new oversight board.
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“I am honored and honored to serve Chicago as the very first executive director of the newly established Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability,” Gross said in a statement. “The independent, civilian-led oversight of our police service and policing accountability agencies is more important than ever before. “
Approved by city council in July, the council is expected to begin work later this year, after the city council’s rules committee appointed 14 people to sit on the seven-member council. Lightfoot will choose from among these 14 nominees.
The rules committee missed the December 1 deadline to nominate these 14 candidates.
The city council’s approval of the new civilian oversight board came after years of tense negotiations between grassroots police reform groups and the mayor’s office, under Lightfoot and former mayor Rahm Emanuel.
The board would give Chicago citizens more information about the policy making of the Chicago Police Department, Civilian Police Accountability Office, and the Chicago Police Board. However, the mayor would retain his power to hire and fire the police superintendent and could veto political mandates approved by the new Civilian Oversight Commission, although city council could override its veto by a two-thirds vote. .
“Under Adam’s leadership, the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability will become a vital part of our city’s policing accountability infrastructure and enable our communities to take the lead in this incredibly important work,” said Lightfoot in a statement. “I have the utmost confidence in Adam’s experience and ability to support and guide this new commission, and I look forward to working with him as we work to make Chicago a national leader in reform. the police.”
The new board is the result of a compromise reached last summer, after Lightfoot and grassroots groups pushing competing proposals struggled to get the votes needed to pass a civilian police oversight plan .
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To achieve this compromise, the mayor agreed to give the monitoring panel more weight in shaping CPD policy than it originally wanted, while grassroots activists gave up empowering the commission to dismiss the police commissioner.
In addition to the seven-member Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability, the ordinance establishing the new Civilian Oversight Council would also establish three-member elected councils in each of the city’s 22 police districts, which would advise the commission and appoint its members. .
In 2023, in the same election for mayor and city council, voters would choose three members for each of 22 district councils from the 22 districts of the Chicago Police Department. These district council members would then nominate candidates for the Community Public Safety Commission, and the mayor would appoint the commission members from among the candidates, subject to city council approval.
The seven-member commission would be empowered to set policies for the DPC, the Civilian Police Accountability Office, and the Chicago Police Council.
However, the mayor could veto policies established by the commission, which could only be overturned by a two-thirds vote of city council.
The commission would also have the power to hire the head of COPA, subject to municipal council approval; and to take a vote of no confidence in the commissioner of police or members of the police council, requiring a two-thirds majority of the commission.
If the commission were to approve a vote of no confidence against the superintendent or the member of the police council, the city council would hold a vote on whether to recommend the mayor to fire them – a recommendation requiring a two-thirds vote of the aldermen. However, the final decision would still rest with the mayor, who would only be required to explain the decision in writing within 14 days of the council vote.
In the future, when a post of police commissioner becomes vacant, the commission will conduct a national search for candidates and present the mayor with a list of three finalists to choose from, essentially taking over the nomination process. now in the hands of the police. Advice.
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While the commission does not have the direct power to fire the COPA chief, members could also hold a vote of no confidence for the agency’s chief administrator, prompting a city council vote on whether to remove the chief administrator by a two-thirds vote. .