Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel won a major round yesterday in his effort to reform oversight of the beleaguered police department, but now comes the hard part: putting in place new standards while walking the gantlet of community activists who think they don’t go far enough and Chicago police who are convinced they’re getting the shaft, the Chicago Tribune reports. As a result, the mayor offered a subdued reaction after a lopsided City Council vote to create a new police misconduct investigation agency with broader powers and empower a new watchdog to make sure the new system doesn’t go awry.
“I would consider this the beginning of a journey, not the end,” Emanuel said after the 39-8 tally. “This is not the end, but it is an important step forward on the improvements that we all seek.” That’s an acknowledgment that many of the thorniest police reform issues remain unresolved, even as the U.S. Justice Department continues its own investigation into police department tactics and training that could result in Emanuel being required to make additional changes. The council vote underscored the mayor’s difficulties. After months of African-American aldermen publicly blasting the administration’s police reform efforts, most of them voted for the ordinance, thanks to changes Emanuel made along with behind-the-scenes cajoling and arm twisting.