After Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel named a task force of leading civil rights experts, academics, and lawyers to improve policing in the city, the group made blunt recommendations for fundamental changes in oversight of the police. One of the most important was creation of a tough new agency to investigate serious misconduct and police shootings. Crucial would be the selection of an administrator by a new community oversight board, a process to be insulated from politics to discourage interference in investigations, the New York Times reports.
The task force said the new agency’s budget should be determined by a set formula that guaranteed enough money to do a credible job, which would avoid efforts by officials to starve it if they wanted to appease the powerful police union. Emanuel issued his plan for the new agency, to be called the Civilian Office of Police Accountability. A decision on how to choose its administrator was put off, and there was no mention of the process being sheltered from political influence or ensure that the agency would have enough money. The plan disappointed some who worked on the task force, who said it showed little willingness to change. They said that the proposal suggested a reluctance by the mayor to cede control of police oversight. “This has an unhappy feeling of déjà vu,” said Locke Bowman of the Roderick & Solange MacArthur Justice Center at Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law. He said the proposal “seems like alphabet soup, changing the letters and very little else.”