Chicago hires NYC’s top investigator of police misconduct

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Chicago has hired away the top investigator at New York’s civilian police oversight agency.

Thomas Kim, 49, will be the No. 2 official in Chicago’s new Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which will replace the Independent Police Review Authority.

Kim will be paid $146,940 a year as the first deputy chief administrator of COPA and oversee an investigative staff of about 103 people.

He answers to Sharon Fairley, the chief administrator of IPRA, who will become the head of COPA when the new agency opens next year.

Kim, whose wife lives in Chicago, was commuting from New York to their home here on weekends, said Mia Sissac, a spokeswoman for IPRA.

Before joining COPA, Kim was chief of investigations for New York’s Civilian Complaint Review Board. He also was an architect of the CCRB Academy, a training program for investigators.

Kim oversaw about 110 investigators in New York.

He was part of a team that helped reform the New York agency and was largely responsible for cutting the average length of New York’s police misconduct investigations, Sissac said.

Police misconduct investigations in New York took an average of a year to complete in 2015, and they now take an average of three months, according to the director of the CCRB.

Fairley’s goal is for COPA’s investigations to average about six months to complete and last no more than 18 months, Sissac said.

Kim previously worked for the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice and Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. He is an Army veteran.

This year, Mayor Rahm Emanuel scrapped IPRA and created COPA in an attempt to strengthen the city’s police disciplinary system. COPA will have about twice the funding as IPRA and investigate more kinds of misconduct allegations, according to city officials.

IPRA, created in 2007, replaced the Office of Professional Standards, another police oversight agency that was criticized for slow investigations that rarely led to discipline against officers.

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