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IPRA chief likely to be asked to stay on, even after doors close

Sharon Fairley | Sun-Times file photo

The head of the Independent Police Review Authority will likely be asked to stay on for months — even after the agency is abolished — to ensure the continuity of investigations of police wrongdoing, alderman were told Thursday.

During a three-hour meeting with the mayor’s staff, members of the City Council’s Progressive Caucus learned that Mayor Rahm Emanuel has decided to forge ahead with replacing IPRA and appointing an inspector general to oversee public safety but to go slowly on a civilian oversight board.

Since that oversight board would be responsible for choosing the new chief of the agency that replaces IPRA, but the oversight board won’t be constituted for months, current IPRA chief Sharon Fairley will likely be asked to stay on, the aldermen were told.

“What the administration heard from many of these meetings that we’ve had is that the community needs to be at the table. They’ve agreed to that. That’s why they’ve pushed back this issue of trying to create a community oversight board very quickly,” Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) said.

“It’s going back to the community to continue to hear from them about the details of how that would be set up.”

Ald John Arena (45th) added, “If that board is going to have any credibility, it’s going to have to be outside of these four walls. And that’s why community advocate groups have said, ‘We need time to structure how that board gets constituted.'”

If the mayor insists on appointing the majority of civilian review board members, Arena said, “It will be at his own peril . . . I’m not gonna vote for anything on a citizen board that’s appointed by this office. That wouldn’t serve the standard we need that board to complete.”

Ald. Ricardo. Munoz (22nd) said part of his “frustration” is that aldermen were shown bullet points, but no specific language of the police accountability ordinance Emanuel wants the City Council to approve on Sept. 14.

That will come next week.

But they were told the agency that replaces IPRA will have a guaranteed percentage of the overall city budget and that retired police officers and prosecutors would likely not be eligible to serve as investigators.