Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday, January 10, announced that police reform advocate and Chicago attorney and public safety policy expert Adam Gross will serve as the first executive director of the new Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability.
The new seven-member commission will help oversee the Chicago Police Department.
Gross served as the director of the police accountability program area for BPI Chicago, a public interest law firm. He also helped craft the plan for the oversight board from the Grassroots Association for Police Accountability, known as GAPA, which evolved into the final board.
“The establishment of a community-led commission for oversight of the Chicago Police Department and its relevant agencies is a historic milestone for our city, and I am thrilled to announce that Adam Gross will serve as its first executive director,” Lightfoot said in a statement.
“Under Adam’s leadership, the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability will become a critically important piece of our city’s police accountability infrastructure and empower our communities to take the lead in this incredibly important work. I have the utmost confidence in Adam’s experience and ability to support and guide this new commission and look forward to working with him as we work to make Chicago a national leader in police reform.”
The goal of the commission overall is to make sure residents play an active role in the direction of the department.
“I am honored and humbled to serve Chicago as the first-ever executive director of the newly created Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability,” Gross said in the city announcement.
“Independent, civilian-led oversight of our police department and police accountability agencies is more important than ever before. I look forward to working with the commission, district councils, the Police Department and partners across the city to give community members a greater opportunity to help build a safer and stronger Chicago. I am grateful to Mayor Lightfoot and the City Council for their leadership on this critical issue and appreciate their confidence in my leadership on this momentous and historic step for our city.”
An ordinance for the new commission was finally approved last July, seven years after the brutal murder of Laquan McDonald by Officer Jason Van Dyke.
The final vote was 36 to 13. Black leaders and activists lobbied heavily for the Council to pass the ordinance. The majority of the city’s Black and Latino aldermen voted in favor of the proposed ordinance. Alderman Anthony Beale (9th) voted against it after arguing the commission was too watered down and seemed to be merely an advisory board.
Under the new ordinance, a seven-member commission will be created and appointed by the mayor. The mayor still holds the power to hire and fire the police superintendent. But the new commission will have some authority in holding CPD officers accountable for alleged misconduct.
The commission will have the power to bring “no confidence” votes against city officials. That key provision could force the City Council to vote on whether to recommend firing the police superintendent, Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) Chief or Police Board members.