Opposition builds against the police review panel

Task force report says IPRA, racial bias must be abolished

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Alderman Leslie Hairston (5th Ward)

Chicago Crusader staff report

Four months after Mayor Rahm Emanuel formed the Police Accountability Task Force amid angry protests, the organization recommended abolishing the police review panel that investigates shootings that involves Chicago officers.

The recommendation is part of a blistering report that the task force released this week. The report says before true reforms must take place, the Chicago Police Department must abolish its “code of silence” culture and the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA).

According to the report, of everyone CPD arrested in 2014, only 3 out of every 1,000 had access to a lawyer while in police custody.

The report is a rebuke to Emanuel and his efforts to restore the credibility of IPRA, which has ruled that there were only two shootings justified out of four cases since 2007. Lorenzo Davis, a former investigator for IPRA, has sued the agency, saying it forced him to change his findings to favor police officers in one case.

The beleaguered agency underwent a shakeup after a police video was released showing officer Jason Van Dyke shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times.

In December, Emanuel formed the Police Accountability Task force to calm rising tension and restore trust in a department that has a history of shooting Blacks and using aggressive police tactics in poor neighborhoods. Since then, Superintendent Garry McCarthy has been fired and voters last month ousted Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez. She will remain in office until the winner is decided in the November 8 primary elections.

Many have called for Emanuel’s resignation at City Hall, saying the city cannot heal with anger and distrust still directed at the mayor for his role in suppressing the video during his reelection bid.

Instead, the mayor has kept a low profile and created the task force, hoping to repair years of community distrust. He also appointed a new head of IPRA, Sharon Fairley.

The task force’s 18-page report said IPRA must be abolished and the Chicago Police Department must acknowledge its racist past and overhaul its excessive force allegations before true reform can take place.

The report also blamed the department and IPRA for creating a “broken” system that’s rooted in racial bias and indifference.

“The linkage with racism and CPD did not just bubble up in the aftermath of the release of the McDonald video. Racism and maltreatment at the hands of the police have been consistent complaints from communities of color for decades,” the report reads. “False arrests, coerced confessions and wrongful convictions are also a part of this history.”

The report reinforces efforts by Alderman Leslie Hairston, who last week introduced an ordinance that would abolish IPRA. If passed, a new agency, the Independent Citizen Police Monitor would be the new agency that will investigate police shootings.

 

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