Chicago Mayor Richard Daley’s proposal to revamp the controversial police Office of Professional Standards is advancing through a City Council committee, but critics contend it won’t improve efforts to root out renegade officers, the Chicago Tribune reports. The measure falls short of reforming an office that Daley acknowledged is perceived as protecting officers, a succession of speakers told the council’s Police and Fire Committee. A review of the office over the years “leads to the inescapable conclusion that hasty passage of the mayor’s ordinance will doom us in the future to an equally inadequate and ineffectual police disciplinary system,” said G. Flint Taylor of the People’s Law Office.
The impact of Daley’s proposal is undermined by the city’s labor contract with the Fraternal Order of Police, said Locke Bowman of the MacArthur Justice Center at Northwestern University. Under one “very pernicious provision,” the officer must receive the name of the complainant and advance copies of all witness statements, Bowman said, and previous unsustained complaints cannot be used against an officer in an investigation, even if there are several. Daley would separate OPS from the police department; have its director report to the mayor instead of the police superintendent; establish a four-year term for the director, who could be removed only for cause; grant OPS subpoena power; and mandate that OPS investigations be concluded in a timely manner with summaries of probes made public. The mayor made his proposal after a videotape caught an off-duty officer beating a female bartender about the same time allegations surfaced that a group of other off-duty officers brutally attacked four businessmen in a bar.