Mayoral ally schedules five public hearings on civilian police review

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Ald. Ariel Reboyras. | Fran Spielman/Sun-Times

The City Council’s Committee on Public Safety will hold five public hearings across the city, beginning Tuesday and continuing through June 5 on four rival proposals for civilian police review.

Four of the five hearings will be held in the evening to encourage maximum participation. The fifth will be held on a Saturday afternoon. The schedule includes:

Tuesday, May 15 from 6:30 p.m.– to- 8:30 p.m. at Corliss High School, 821 East 103rd Street.

Saturday, May 19 from 1:00 p.m.-to-3 p.m. at Gage Park High School, 5630 S Rockwell.

Tuesday, May 29, from 6:30 p.m.-to– 8:30 p.m. at Westinghouse College Prep, 3223 W Franklin Boulevard.

Thursday, May 31 from 6:30 p.m.-to-8:30 p.m. at Wilbur Wright College, 4300 N Narragansett Ave.

Tuesday, June 5 from 6:30 p.m.-to-8:30 p.m. at Amundsen High School, 5110 N Damen Ave.

“As we continue to move forward with public safety reforms, a critical part of this process is hearing from the community on what they want to see in community oversight for public safety,” Public Safety Committee Chairman Ariel Reboyras (30th) was quoted as saying in a press release.

“I thank Chicagoans for being invested in making sure we have the right public safety accountability system for our city, and look forward to these conversations.”

Last month, a City Council hearing two years in the making on the most extreme of four rival proposals for civilian police review was abruptly canceled after Reboyras promised to air the proposal at a series of public hearings.

Reboyras reiterated then that the plan to abolish the Police Board, get rid of the Civilian Office of Police Accountability and replace both with an elected, 22-member council is “too egregious” and doesn’t have the 26 votes needed for passage.

But he agreed to put it on equal footing with three other more moderate proposals after rookie Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) withdrew his parliamentary maneuver known as a Rule 41 to force a City Council floor fight that could have embarrassed Mayor Rahm Emanuel and put aldermen on the spot.

“He’s my colleague. The last thing we want is any silliness discussions on the floor. It’s only fair that I allow his ordinance to be heard citywide, including the other three [proposals] that are moving forward. And we’ll see what the outcome is,” Reboyras, who’s now facing a strong challenge from the daughter of retiring Congressman Luis Gutierrez, said then.

“My colleague does understand that it may not have the votes to pass if we were to bring this up today. So, I’m giving him an opportunity….to let the community voice their opinions.”

The plan championed by the Chicago Alliance Against Racist & Political Repression has been languishing in the City Council’s Committee on Public Safety for nearly two years.

It calls for the election of one representative from each of the city’s 22 police districts to a four-year term with a dedicated staff and an annual salary that would match what aldermen are paid.

The elected panel would be responsible for hiring and firing Chicago’s Police superintendent and establishing police policy. It also would investigate police shootings and other allegations of excessive force and police abuse and pass judgment on police discipline.

The Police Board and COPA would be abolished.

Reboyras has insisted the plan is going nowhere.

“They get aldermanic salaries. They get to increase their budget as needed. They flat-out fire COPA. They flat out fire the entire Police Board. It’s just too egregious,” the chairman said.

The five public hearings will consider the long-stalled “Civilian Police Accountability Council along with three more moderate proposals for civilian police oversight.

One was crafted by the Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability and includes the power to subpoena documents, fire the police superintendent, reversible only by a two-thirds City Council vote, establish police policy, choose the Police Board and hire and fire the Police Board president.

The other two were introduced by Reboyras and neuter GAPA’s proposal in favor of a civilian review structure that’s more advisory in nature.

Mayoral challenger Lori Lightfoot has accused Emanuel of blindsiding GAPA and betraying the promise he made to deliver meaningful civilian oversight.

Asked last month what he expects the final compromise to look like, Reboyras said, “An advisory board with some powers. But not to fire and hire the superintendent. That’s definitely out of the question.”

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