The newly appointed head of the agency that investigates Chicago police-involved shootings has ordered an audit of previously closed cases.
The audit is part of an effort to restore public trust in the agency, said Sharon Fairley, Independent Police Review Authority chief administrator.
“There currently exists an impediment to our success that, if not addressed head on, will limit our ability to rebuild the confidence of Chicagoans,” Fairley told reporters Wednesday at her agency’s headquarters on the West Side.
But Fairley — tasked with fixing IPRA in the wake of the Laquan McDonald shooting — said the audit would look closely at only between “20 and 40 to start” of the hundreds of officer-involved shootings the agency has investigated since its formation in 2007.
“It would take too long and be really expensive to look at each and every case,” Fairley said.
The law firm of McGuireWoods will handle the audit, which is expected to take about six months, Fairley said. She said the results would be made public.
Among other things, the audit is intended to assess the quality of IPRA’s past investigations and the accuracy of its findings.
Asked whether IPRA would be able to take action against officers who had previously been cleared, Fairley said, “That would have to be looked at on a case-by-case basis.”
Fairley has acknowledged she faces a difficult task restoring confidence in an agency with a trust level at an “all-time low.” Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed Fairley — replacing Scott Ando — amid the protests that began with the release of footage of a white Chicago Police officer fatally shooting the 17-year-old McDonald in October 2014.
Speaking to reporters after her first 100 days on the job, Fairley noted that the lack of trust in the agency stems in part from the fact that of the “hundreds of investigations” of officer-involved shootings, IPRA has only found an officer acted “outside” of CPD policy in two cases.
Fairley was asked whether the public could expect significantly different results based on the cases currently under review in her office.
Fairley said it’s too early to say. She said her focus has been to “fix the structure” of IPRA.
She said cases would now be subject to “a more rigorous review process.”