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Chicago clergy urge police department reforms

The Rev. George W. Daniels (center), pastor at the First Baptist Congregational Church of Chicago, leads dozens of religious leaders in a prayer outside Chicago Police headquarters Tuesday, July 19, 2016. | Lou Foglia/Sun-Times

An interfaith coalition of Chicago clergy on Tuesday thanked the Chicago Police Department for its service while delivering a list of reform recommendations.

Cy Fields, pastor at New Landmark Missionary Baptist Church, emphasized the difference between supporting “law-abiding police officers” and condemning “the small number who go outside the law.”

The coalition’s 15 recommendations were drawn from the Police Accountability Task Force’s report.

“There’s a timeline for these recommendations,” said Marshall Hatch of the New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church. But he would not say what the coalition’s deadline is.

The coalition’s call to disband the Independent Police Review Authority is the most pressing, Hatch said. He felt IPRA had never been truly independent of the department.

Other recommendations included a call to establish “whistleblower protection” for police officers who report incidents of misconduct.

The department is in the final planning stages for an anonymous hotline for officers to report misconduct, police spokesman Frank Giancamilli said.

The department is also expanding the use of body cameras and has updated the protocols for mental health training, both in accordance with the task force’s recommendations. The coalition makes the additional recommendation that police officers undergo random psychological evaluations.

“This isn’t about black and white. . . . It’s about wrong and right,” Hatch said, referring to the weekend slaying of three officers and wounding of three others in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Fields said he wasn’t sure that protests inspire vigilantism “but we condemn all violence to the utmost.”

Glen Brooks, CAPS area coordinator, received the coalition’s letter on behalf of Supt. Eddie Johnson. Johnson’s office said the superintendent intends to meet with the religious leaders next week.