Police brutality scandals will continue to haunt Chicago until the city creates an independent civilian agency to investigate allegations of abuse, say activists and civil rights lawyers quoted by the Chicago Tribune. Advocates said recent high-profile cases — including an off-duty officer’s videotaped beating of a bartender — show that action is long overdue. “All around the city, people are seeing the consequences of a police department that’s failing to police itself,” said Locke Bowman of Northwestern University’s MacArthur Justice Center. Bowman spoke at a news conference that included representatives of the Cook County public defender’s office, the University of Chicago’s legal aid clinic and Citizens Alert, which advocates for police accountability.
The group urged the city to create an Independent Civilian Review Agency that would have the power to subpoena records and testimony. Advocates said more than 70 cities have this type of independent agency, including New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. Police officials said civilians already participate in the disciplinary process through the city’s Office of Professional Standards, which investigates complaints, and the Police Board, which reviews some disciplinary matters. A spokeswoman said Mayor Richard Daley said had appointed an expert panel to help select the next head of OPS and that the panel would look at many of the issues the police critics raised.