On August 29th, Mayor Lori Lightfoot appointed the seven-member commission charged with taking the first step toward delivering civilian oversight of the Chicago Police Department that is pivotal to restoring shattered trust between residents and police. Those chosen are Rev. Dr. Beth Brown, Anthony Driver, Oswaldo Gomez, Yvette Loizon, Cliff Nellis, Remel Terry and Isaac Troncoso. They will serve only until district council members are elected on February 28th, 2023 and recommend 14 names from which the mayor will choose a permanent, seven-member Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability. The landmark ordinance approved by the City Council in July 2021 empowers this interim commission to conduct a nationwide search for Chicago’s next police superintendent if Police Supt. David Brown resigns or is fired.
More immediately, the interim commission will be charged with filling several vacancies on the Police Board as well as reviewing and commenting on the Chicago Police Department’s budget before a City Council vote on the mayor’s 2023 budget. The interim commission must establish annual goals for Police Department and the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA), which investigates allegations of misconduct by police officers. It also will set police policy not covered by the consent decree and measure progress toward fulfilling those goals. The interim commission is also authorized to take a vote of no-confidence in the superintendent and Police Board members that would trigger a similar vote by the City Council after public hearings. Although the ultimate decision would still rest with the mayor, back-to-back no-confidence votes in the superintendent would create enormous political pressure that would be difficult for the mayor to ignore. And even if she does, she would need to publicly explain why.
As an organization that has worked hard to see the passing of the ECPS (Empowering Communities for Public Safety) ordinance, SWOP leaders are encouraged to witness the interim commission be appointed and although this is only the beginning of the road toward police accountability, it is one that can be viewed as a huge step towards progress, equality, and increased safety across our community and city.